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Dada and Surrealist Performance, Black Mountain, Fluxus and Happenings


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Title: Dada and Surrealist Performance, Black Mountain, Fluxus and Happenings

Dada and Surrealist Performance, Black Mountain,
Fluxus and Happenings
  • Dada is the groundwork to abstract art and sound
    poetry, a starting point for performance art, a
    prelude to postmodernism, an influence on pop
    art, a celebration of antiart to be later
    embraced for anarcho-political uses in the 1960s
    and the movement that lay the foundation for
    Surrealism." Marc Lowenthal Translator's
    Introduction to Francis Picabia's I AM A
    BEAUTIFUL MONSTER Poetry, Prose, And Provocation
    (MIT PRESS 2007

  • Group of Dadaist form around the Cafe Voltaire in
    Zurich. Basically a gathering of people who
    disdained war.
  • As a movement Dada protested war and senseless
  • In Tristan Tzaras manifesto he called for the
    destruction of good manners, an end to logic, the
    destruction of memory, spontaneity and

  • 1913 - Duchamp makes the first 'readymade' - a
    bicycle wheel mounted on a stool
  • 1916 - Cabaret Voltaire opens in Zurich on 5
    February. It soon takes the name 'Dada'
  • 1917 - First issue of 'Dada' periodical
    published. Issues 1-4 of '391' periodical
    published by Picabia. Duchamp exhibits 'Fountain'
    in New York.
  • 1918 - Tzara published his first manifesto, in
    'Dada' issue 3. Club Dada in Berlin starts to use
  • 1919 - 'Litterature' periodical edited by Breton
    published. Ernst and Baargeld found Cologne Dada.
    Kurt Schwitters makes the first Merz works.
  • 1920 - Tzara arrives in Paris. Club Dada tour of
    Germany. Ernst and others stage the 'Spring
    Awakening' exhibition in Cologne.
  • 1921 - 'New York Dada' periodical published,
    edited by Duchamp and Man Ray. Dada stages the
    trail of Barres and in doing so loses the support
    of Picabia.
  • 1923 - Duchamp finally stops work on The Bride
    Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors Even
  • 1924 - Breton publishes the first manifesto of

Marcel Duchamp
Hugo Ball 1886-1927
  • It is necessary for me to drop all respect for
    tradition, opinion, and judgement. It is
    necessary for me to erase the rambling text that
    others have written.
  • The present does not exist in principles, but
    only in association. We live in a fantastic age
    that draws its decisions more from affiliation
    than from unassailable axioms. The creative man
    can do anything he wants with this age. It is,
    all of it, common property, matter.
  • Nature is neither beautiful nor ugly, neither
    good nor bad. It is fantastic, monstrous, and
    infinitely unrestrained. It knows no reason, but
    it listens to reason when it meets with
    resistance. Nature wants to exist and develop,
    that is all. Being in harmony with nature is the
    same as being in harmony with madness.

Hugo Ball Flight Out of Time
Ball Reciting Sound Poem in the Cabaret Voltaire
Hugo Ball performing Karawane
(No Transcript)
Café Odeon re-creation
Emmy Hennings 1885-1948
  • Dancer
  • To you it's as if I was already
  • Marked and waiting on Death's list.
  • It keeps me safe from many sins.
  • How slowly life drains out of me.
  • My steps are often steeped in gloom,
  • My heart beats in a sickly way
  • And it gets weaker every day.
  • A death angel stands in the middle of my room.
  • Yet I dance till I'm out of breath.
  • Soon lying in the grave I'll be
  • And no one will snuggle up to me.
  • Oh, give me kisses up till death.

(No Transcript)
Tristan Tzara
  • Born Sami Rosenstock , Romanian, 1896-1963
  • After 1929 attempted to reconcile surrealism and
    marxism. Joined the French Communist Party in
    1937. Fought in the French Resistance. Quit the
    communist party in 1956 over the russian
    repression of the Hungarian Revolution.

(No Transcript)
  • The beginings of Dada were not the beginnings of
    an art but of a disgustTristan Tzara
  • DADA is a virgin microbe DADA is against the
    high cost of living DADA limited company for
    the exploitation of ideas DADA has 391 different
    attitudes and colours according to the sex of the
    president It changes - affirms - says the
    opposite at the same time - no importance -
    shouts - goes fishing. Dada is the chameleon of
    rapid and self interested change. Dada is
    against the future. Dada is dead. Dada is absurd.
    Long live Dada. Dada is not a literary school,
    howl - Tristan Tzara

Gas Heart 1923
Costumes by Sonia Delaunay
Delaunay Designs
Sonia Delaunay (Sarah Stern) 1985-1979
Simultaneous Store 1925
Marcel Duchamp Fountain
Dada Cards
Man Ray Coat Stand
Kurt Schwitters
(No Transcript)
(No Transcript)
  • Au Rendez-vous des amis (1922) (First row)
    Crevel, Ernst, Dostoyevsky, Fraenkel, Paulhan,
    Péret, Baargeld, Desnos.
  • (Standing) Soupault, Art, Morise, Raphael,
    Eluard, Aragon, Breton, de Chirico, Gala Eluard

  • Le Surrealist group 1924 Baron, Queneau, Breton,
    Boiffard, de Chirico, Vitrac, Eluard, Soupault,
    Desnos, Aragon.
  • Naville, Simone Collinet-Breton, Morise,
    Marie-Louise Soupault

Merce Cunningham and Buckminster Fuller at Black
1953 1957
Nocturnes 1956
Crisis 1960
Museum Event 1966
Event 1968
Rain Forest 1968
Second Hand 1975
Square Game 1976
John Cage 1912-1992
Cage and Fluxus
  • John Cage's 'Experimental Composition' classes
    from 1957 to 1959 at the New School for Social
    Research have become legendary as an American
    source of Fluxus, the international network of
    artists, composers, and designers. The majority
    of his students had little or no background in
    music, most of whom were artists. His students
    included Jackson Mac Low, Allan Kaprow, Al
    Hansen, George Brecht, Alice Denham and Dick
    Higgins, as well as the numerous artists he
    invited to attend his classes unofficially.
    Several famous pieces came from these classes
    George Brecht's Time Table Music, and Alice
    Denham's 48 SecondsWikipedia article on John Cage

Water Walk on TV Game Show 1960
Gutai Group
  • The aim of the Gutai group was to break with the
    past and blur the boundaries between art and life
    in post-war Japan, seeking a new beginning in
    order to put the horrors behind.
  • Yoshihara organized Gutai with the intent of
    renewing art by saving it from commerce and
    fetishism, and by allowing the material to
    express itself freely, unhindered by extraneous
    factors, non-material issues. The word Gutai was
    a composite of gu (tool) and tai (body).
    Yoshihara also took it as signifying
    concreteness and embodiment.5 In his Gutai
    Manifesto(1956), he denounced the way materials
    are loaded with false significance by way of
    fraud, so that, instead of just presenting their
    own material, they take on the appearance of
    something elsethe materials have been completely
    murdered and can no longer speak to us.
    Consistently, Yoshihara added to this the caveat
    that nothing may be copied.

Atsuko Tanaka 1932-2005
Atsuko Tanaka Electric Dress 1956
  • In a related work, Stage Clothes, she made a
    dress that included other dresses so that as she
    undressed she stayed dressed, with ever more
    garments appearing magically to clothe her. There
    was no escaping, in modern culture, the surfaces
    a woman could reveal. And yet her art was not a
    gloomy meditation on authenticity. The power of
    fashion also represented the freedom to remake
    oneself again and again.
  • In Electric Dress, Tanaka seemed to fuse
    technology and the flesh. During the original
    performance, in fact, some people became
    concerned that she would electrocute herself and
    in Japan, the light of Hiroshima, which X-rayed
    the body, quickly came to mind. But Tanakas
    fusion went well beyond academic commentary on
    technology and womens issues. She became, in her
    dress, a kind of twinkling building on the
    horizon and, by extension, a symbol of the modern
    Asian city. She anticipated the delirium of light
    that is Tokyo. A city, like a woman in a dress,
    can be a mysterious object of desire. Tanakas
    light conceals as it reveals.
  • Mark Stevens, New York Magazine, Sept. 27, 2004

Yellow Cotton 1955
Bells 1955
  • "The material as the actual source of interest
    ... lost its importance as soon as the
    electricity was switched on suddenly the sound
    of the bells were the work of art.Akira
    Kanayama, Gutai artist and husband of Atsuko

Work 1955
  • At the exhibition in July 1955, which was
    organized by the Ashiya City Art Association,
    other Gutai artists also performed Kazuo
    Shiraga, swinging an axe, put red-painted wooden
    cubes on top of each other, Saburo Murakami
    trampled down and tore to pieces roofing
    cardboard, Sadamasa Motonaga hanged up plastic
    bags with coloured water on the trees, Tsuruko
    Yamazaki hanged up sheet steel, Michio Yoshihara
    showed objects, made of garbage. Yozo Ukita
    described the exhibition as follows "At The
    Experimental Outdoor Exhibition of Modern Art to
    Challenge the Midsummer Burning Sun we did not
    try to overcome nature nor to challenge nature
    ... We wanted to find out how we could survive in
    this pine forest ..."

Recent Paintings
  • 1964-72
  • 2001

Shozo Shimamoto
  • Please Walk on Here 1955
  • Canon Painting 1956

Crane performance Paintings 1994
  • These works belong to a series realized all at
    once during a quite famous crane performance in
    Itami City ( Japan ). The performance, in
    collaboration with the Paper-Cup Artist LOCO,
    consisted of dropping colors contained in spheres
    made of cups by Shimamoto who hung from a height
    of 30 meters.

  • Fluxus is about spontaneity, chaos, and the
    inherent beauty in the accidental.
  • Sometimes it concerns itself with the accident
    in the box
  • Two formats are unique to Fluxus, a type of
    performance art called the Event and Fluxkit
    multiples, a collection of everyday objects or
    inexpensive printed cards, collected in a box for
    private and personal investigation

George Maciunas Fluxmanifesto
  • To establish artists nonprofessional,
    nonparasitic, nonelite status in society, he must
    demonstrate own dispensibility, he must
    demonstrate self-sufficiency of the audience, he
    must demonstrate that anything can substitute art
    and anyone can do it. Therefore, this substitute
    art-amusement must be simple, amusing, concerned
    with insignificances, have no commodity or
    institutional value. It must be unlimited,
    obtainable by all and eventually produced by all.

Fluxkits Claes Oldenburg
Flux Year Box 2, ed. Maciunas late 60s
Beuys Everess 1968
Beuys The Silence 1973
Beuys Banknote 1979
Beuys New York Subway Poster 1983
Fluxus Piano
  • Generally credited as originating with Allan
    Kaprows 18 Happenings in 6 Parts 1959
  • A form of theater spectacle that rejects the
    conceit that everyone in the audience should see
    the same picture
  • Happenings are comparmentalized, each unit is a
    whole in itself and there is no causal plot
  • Characters tend to be allegorical and persons are
    treated like objects.

Evolution of Happenings
  • Kaprow credits the following evolution of the
    form as a progression from action painting to
    Assemblages, into Environments.
  • Environments incorporating sound and people
    became happenings.
  • Kirby finds Happenings have nothing to do with
    plastic arts but rather were a new kind of

Darko Suvins Categories
  • Four categories to Happenings
  • Events as single non-verbal activities
  • Aleatoric scenes or longer activities where text
    is treated mainly as sound (chance construction)
  • Happenings that range from non-verbal activities
    to clear compositions with well-rehearsed actors
    and composed text.
  • Action Theater which may be like drama

Allan Kaprow
Kaprows notions
  • Kaprow wants to introduce a new notion of space
    in which events make the space or create isolated
    nodes of spatial meaning. Time should be variable
    and discontinuous.
  • Space and time cease to be conventions they
    become problematic materials. Space becomes the
    sum of all objects structured through
    object-relations which include real objects, as
    well as people. Happenings thus assign the
    audience the same ontological status as the
    performers both can provide performance-events,
    both are treated as objects.

Kaprow 18 Happenings in 6 Parts, Fall 1959
18 Happenings redo 2007
Jim Dine Car Crash Nov. 1960
Allan Kaprow Push and Pull A Furniture Comedy
for Hans Hoffmann, 1963
Push and Pull reinvention 2007
Kaprow 2005
Allan Kaprow Spring Happening 1961
Robert Whitman Mouth 1961
Ben Patterson Licking Piece 1964
Josef Beuys I Like America and America Likes Me
Fluids by Allan Kaprow
  • A single event done in many places over a
    three-day period. It consists in building huge,
    blank, rectangular ice structures thirty feet
    long, ten feet wide, and eight feet high. People
    set the structures up using rock salt as a binder
    - which hastens melting and fuses the blocks
    together. The structures are built about 20
    places throughout Los Angeles. If one crosses the
    city he might suddenly be confronted by these
    mute and meaningless blank structures which have
    been left to melt. The structures indicate no
    significance, their very blankness and their
    rapid deterioration proclaims the opposite of

Esposizione by Ann Halprin
  • .explored the architectonic concept of space
    and was performed on a large stage. To make the
    relatively large stage compared to the audience
    sufficient for their six-member company
    performance they suspended a cargo net across the
    proscenium in the air, to allow the dancers to
    move vertically. The dance evolved out of a
    spacial idea. They said that the theatre was
    their environment and they were going to move
    through the theatre. They took a single task
    burdening themselves with enormous amounts of
    luggage. Each person had to carry all kind of
    everyday objects automobile tires, gunnysacks
    filled, bundles of rags, newspapers rolled up,
    etc, and to allow his movements to be conditioned
    to speeds that had been set up for him. They
    started all over the place, so that it was like
    an invasion. The music started at a different
    time, dancers started at different times, so that
    the audience had no idea when anything started.
    The whole dance was a series of false beginnings.
    As soon as something got started, something else
    would be introduced. The dancers task was to
    carry things and to penetrate the entire
    auditorium. When they reached the high point they
    let the objects roll down, the whole space
  • From Happening and Other Acts, ed. Mariellen
    Sandford, Routledge, 1995

Anna Halprin
Halprin Teaching
  • Beginning in 1955, after she returned from
    performing in New York at the 92nd Street Y in a
    concert curated by Martha Graham, Halprin was
    disillusioned by what she saw as a lack of
    individuality in the modern dance world. Halprin
    began experimenting in her new scenic dance
    laboratory, an outdoor deck that her husband and
    Arch Lauterer had just designed for her in a
    redwood grove on the steep hillside below their
    Marin County home on the side of Mount Tamalpais.
  • ON THIS DECK Halprin learned to attend to nature
    the way H'Doubler had listened to the body,
    embracing everyday actions like dressing and
    undressing or dragging the relaxed body of a
    friend. Among the dancers who came to her summer
    workshops in the early 1960s were Simone Forti,
    Yvonne Rainer, Trisha Brown, Sally Gross, and
    Meredith Monk. Back in New York at Judson
    Memorial Church and other venues, they took
    forward Halprin's ideas of task performance, of
    the uncoupling of cause and effect in dance
    theater, and the use of the real world as a site
    for dance, into a new genre that became
    postmodern dance.
  • It wasn't only nature, hut also the social
    environment that fed Halprin as an artist. In the
    late 1960s her interest turned toward community
    and the urban rituals that sustain it. Her 1969
    Ceremony of Us was shaped by racial tensions
    among the cast, which drew from black performers
    in the Watts section of Los Angeles and her white
    dancers from the San Francisco Dancers' Workshop.
    In the 1970s, as a cancer survivor, Halprin
    became interested in movement as a healing
    art--in social, psychological, and physical
    terms. She moved from incorporating ordinary life
    in her performance pieces toward an appreciation
    of the dancer in every person, trained or

Alison Knowles
  • Eco Art
  • Happenings
  • The Fluxus Performance Workbook
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