Learning to Appreciate Fluxus

by scottrgs

I have to admit that, when we began to study the Fluxus movement in class, I had some serious doubts. I mean, just a couple weeks ago we were studying brilliant composers like Beethoven and Wagner. It’s hard to see Fluxus as something that carries on their tradition. The project of the Fluxus movement seems only even tentatively connected to music.

And yet, if I think Fluxus is absurd, the Fluxus artists probably think so too. There is a certain light-heartedness – a sense of humor, even – in this movement that is rare to find in the art world. I’m happy to say that I have a much greater appreciation for Fluxus after studying it in this course. That said, the one moment that won me over was the Fluxus performance in class. It was entertaining, silly, and in all honesty, fun to watch.

I think the success of Fluxus is its ability to connect with audiences in new ways. Fluxus performances have visual as well as aural aspects. They engage with the audience on more than just an aesthetic dimension. I tried watching a few Fluxus videos on youtube and, I have to admit, they are not nearly as interesting or fun. The emphasis of Fluxus art on live performance is, I think, essential to its nature. There is a level of connectedness that we experience during live performances that is lost to us when we watch a recording.

All in all, if we laugh at the Fluxus movement and don’t take it seriously, it’s probably because the artists themselves are laughing with us.

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