A couple weeks ago, I trekked to the Great Midwest – the city of Chicago to be exact – in order to attend the Chicago Flux Fest. Organized by Picasso Gaglione and Keith Buchholz (a.k.a Dada Machine Fluxus), this four day extravaganza of all things fluxus was a bundle of fun.
For those of you curious to know more about fluxus, I suggest taking a look here and here; writers and artists with far more knowledge have already written about the history and timeline of the genre. (although I’ve blogged a bit about it in this previous post.)
Landing at 5:30 in the morning, Chicago greeted me with grey overcast skies. I took the train downtown, all the cars empty except for me and my suitcase. Checking into the hotel, I caught a fast disco nap (fell asleep contemplating room service and scrambled eggs…), then made my way over to Columbia College for the “Flux It Yourself” event that was happening in the evening.
From the moment I walked into the space, it was like being surrounded full of old friends, whether you knew people or not. Performances were in-progress, so there were whispered “hellos” and “how are you?”s and “you made it!” I loved perusing the publications that Cecil Touchon’s Fluxmuseum had brought for everyone to look through, as well as the fluxboxes by Stampland/Dada Machine Fluxus. But the real focus that evening was the performance/event scores.
The performative aspect is a large component of fluxus; event scores are “essentially performance art scripts consisting of a few lines of direction, and often describe everyday actions to be performed, rather than dialogue” (via wiki). One well-known example of an event score is the Dick Higgins piece “Danger Music”, which (so the story goes) got him thrown out of a friend’s dinner party the evening he debuted the piece. Luckily for us, no one got thrown out of the gallery at Columbia – if anything, a curious group of onlookers and students filled the space.
My two favorite pieces? Catherine Schwalbe’s “Hommage to Kurt Schwitters” (in which she drops a box solidly on the floor, breaking an entire set of what is “her soon to be ex-mother inlaw’s dishes” — the audience went wild!) and Viv De Dada and Mary Campbell performing the Reuben Sandwich piece “Make 6 Books Out of 5”(it’s exactly what you’re thinking, and the bookbinder in me loved every second of it!)
After dinner with the group, I walked back to the hotel in the snow (yep, it snowed; see above). I kicked back with a bit of mail art and writing, putting my thoughts together for the next day. Before dropping off to sleep, I managed to find the mailbox in my hotel lobby (well, it wasn’t to be missed, actually), and deposited some missives.
I’ll continue the story of my Chicago adventures on the morrow; photos of mail art, high jinks, and people running around in bowlers will follow, I promise. But for now, I leave you with this video of the evening’s festivities at Columbia College’s Center for Book and Paper (via vivdedada’s youtube channel):