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Fluxus art movement inspires new exhibition

Yoko Ono, 13 Days Do-It-Yourself Dance Festival for Oslo. Broadcast at NRK Radio P2, Kulturbeitet, January 24-February 9, 2005, © Yoko Ono.

Yoko Ono, 13 Days Do-It-Yourself Dance Festival for Oslo. Broadcast at NRK Radio P2, Kulturbeitet, January 24-February 9, 2005, © Yoko Ono.

By SUE WUETCHER

Published February 20, 2014

Yoko Ono Fan Club Poster
“Fluxus tends to move ‘art’ out of the eyes and into the body, into experience, into life at large.”
Julie Rozman, curator
"Yoko Ono Fan Club"

“Yoko Ono Fan Club,” a multimedia exhibition designed to invoke the spirit of the Fluxus art movement, will open on Feb. 27 in the Visual Studies Gallery with a public reception from 5-7 p.m. in the gallery, located on the second floor of the UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts, North Campus.

Some of the artists whose work is exhibited will be attendance at the reception, which is free and open to the public.

“Yoko Ono Fan Club” (YOFC), which runs through March 29, features a variety of media, among them objects, manifestos, wordplay, installations, interventions, disruptions, scores, documentation, instructions, happenings, performances and invitations for participation — all forms prevalent in the Fluxus movement, which began in the 1960s and took its name from the Latin word meaning “flowing” or “fluid.”

Fluxus, notes exhibition curator Julie M Rozman, an MFA candidate in the Department of Visual Studies, “has a tendency toward challenging boundaries, especially the boundary between what we define as art and what we define as life, as well as the way we draw lines between categories within art. The approaches and results are diverse: They include play, arbitrariness, randomness, nonsense and absurdity.”

Instructions and scores are the most easily accessible Fluxus forms, Rozman explains, but “they take another life when they are performed.”

“The directions tend to be inexact, with the intention that every time could be different, and the understanding that interpretation is part of how a piece is realized,” she says.

For example, Alison Knowles’ “#2 Proposition” (1962) simply instructs: “Make a salad.” Knowles has performed it alone, for a small audience, whose members, by eating the salad, become participants in this Fluxus “event.” Knowles also performed the piece more recently with assistants, chopped vegetables dumped from a balcony onto a tarp below to serve hundreds.

“Fluxus tends to move ‘art’ out of the eyes and into the body, into experience, into life at large,” Rozman says. “Art — with a capital ‘A’ — tends to be a hands-off, behind-glass affair; in contrast, non-preciousness is embedded in Fluxus.”

Yoko Ono is one of the artists associated with the Fluxus movement of the 1960s who challenged boundaries within the arts and between art and life, Rozman says. Others were Nam June Paik, John Cage, Jackson Mac Low and, more recently, UB’s Mike Basinski, curator of the Poetry Collection.  

So why call the exhibition “Yoko Ono Fan Club?”

“The title of the show has a certain silliness to it — the idea of a fan club does, too. A fan club doesn’t have an unyielding rigor to its ideology, but it does have a cheerful support and, obviously, that’s a good match for Fluxus,” Rozman explains. “The title also evokes ideas found in Yoko Ono’s work, from the playful and Zen-inflected ‘Grapefruit,’ to a ceiling painting that simply says ‘Yes,’ to her emphases on using the imagination and moving toward peace.”

The exhibition reflects the qualities and methods of Fluxus and of Ono in a variety of ways, she points out. “It asks for active engagement on the part of the audience. There are lots of instructional and participatory pieces, as well as works that concern themselves with words, text and meaning, and others that play with various demarcations between art and life, and within art and within life,” she says. “Many of them are serious and lighthearted at the same time — if you’re too serious, you’re missing the point!”

Rozman is thrilled that Ono agreed to take part in the show, and has provided some instructional works, “with the invitation to exhibit them, perform them or both.”

“So I’ll be exhibiting the texts in the gallery,” she says, “along with an invitation to contribute dance reports to the gallery wall or via email” — one of the pieces is “Thirteen Days Dance Festival.”

“It’s in the spirit of these things to follow the instructions or creatively interpret them or to perform the instructions in a different order and so on,” she says, adding that technology makes it “easier to cross geographical boundaries” so she’ll post “Dance Festival” and other invitations on Tumblr for responses and documentation.

Artists whose work is featured in “Yoko Ono Fan Club” hail from Western New York, as well as from across the nation and globe. They include Basinski, Volodymyr Bilyk, Katrina Boemig, Shannon Ciston, Laura Collins, Robert Ladislas Derr, Jenna Efrein, Jas W Felter, Luc Fierens, Benjamin Grosser, Claire Gustavson and Sarah Keeling, Bernard Klevickas, Marissa C. Lehner, Elizabeth Leister, Amy Lemaire, Frans van Lent, Alicia Marván, Gerald Mead, Dao Nguyen, Gardiner Funo O’Kain, Klaus Pinter, Jess Printup, Warren Quigley, Leyla Rodriguez and Christian Straub, Harumo Sato, Catherine Schwalbe, Priscilla P Stadler, Alison Starr, Juliann Wang and Devin Wilson.

True to the spirit of Fluxus, the exhibition will close on March 29 with performances by the ensembles BuffFluxus and Wooden Cities.

Wooden Cities, a group that presents “new” new music, will perform “You Our Sound,” with texts and scores by Pauline Oliveros and Ono.

The Buffalo-based BuffFluxus will presents events and scores by such Fluxus artists as Knowles, Mac Low, Ono, Paik, Dick Higgins, Emmett Smith and others.

Doors open at 6 p.m.; the performances, which are free and open to the public, will begin at 6:30 p.m.

The UB Art Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, call 716-645-6913.

READER COMMENT

I'm so happy to see Yoko Ono and her creative side in this exhibition called "Yoko Ono Fan Club" and what the show represents in using the Fluxus art form of expression, complimenting the body and life experiences -- and not through the eyes.

 

The audience will appreciate being included in participation, as well.

 

Yoko Ono looks amazing, and I know this show will be very successful.

 

Sharon Shennen Rottiers