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Dada and Surrealist Performance, Black Mountain, Fluxus and Happenings

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1 Dada and Surrealist Performance, Black Mountain, Fluxus and Happenings

2 Dada 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

3 Group of Dadaist form around the Cafe Voltaire in Zurich
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 slaughter. In Tristan Tzara’s manifesto he called for the destruction of good manners, an end to logic, the destruction of memory, spontaneity and forgetfullness

4 Timeline Duchamp makes the first 'readymade' - a bicycle wheel mounted on a stool Cabaret Voltaire opens in Zurich on 5 February. It soon takes the name 'Dada' First issue of 'Dada' periodical published. Issues 1-4 of '391' periodical published by Picabia. Duchamp exhibits 'Fountain' in New York. Tzara published his first manifesto, in 'Dada' issue 3. Club Dada in Berlin starts to use photomontage 'Litterature' periodical edited by Breton published. Ernst and Baargeld found Cologne Dada. Kurt Schwitters makes the first Merz works. Tzara arrives in Paris. Club Dada tour of Germany. Ernst and others stage the 'Spring Awakening' exhibition in Cologne. '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. Duchamp finally stops work on The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors Even Breton publishes the first manifesto of Surrealism.

5 Marcel Duchamp

6 Hugo Ball 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.

7 Hugo Ball Flight Out of Time

8 Ball Reciting Sound Poem in the Cabaret Voltaire

9 Hugo Ball performing Karawane


11 Café Odeon re-creation

12 Emmy Hennings 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.


14 Tristan Tzara Born Sami Rosenstock , Romanian, 1896-1963
After 1929 attempted to reconcile surrealism and marxism. Joined the French Communist Party in Fought in the French Resistance. Quit the communist party in 1956 over the russian repression of the Hungarian Revolution.


16 The beginings of Dada were not the beginnings of an art but of a disgust—Tristan 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

17 Gas Heart 1923

18 Costumes by Sonia Delaunay

19 Delaunay Designs

20 Sonia Delaunay (Sarah Stern) 1985-1979

21 Simultaneous Store 1925

22 Marcel Duchamp Fountain

23 Dada Cards

24 Man Ray Coat Stand

25 Kurt Schwitters



28 Surrealism

29 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

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

31 Merce Cunningham and Buckminster Fuller at Black Mountain


33 Nocturnes 1956

34 Crisis 1960

35 Museum Event 1966

36 Event 1968

37 Rain Forest 1968

38 Second Hand 1975

39 Square Game 1976

40 John Cage

41 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 Seconds—Wikipedia article on John Cage

42 Water Walk on TV Game Show 1960

43 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 else…the materials have been completely murdered and can no longer speak to us.” Consistently, Yoshihara added to this the caveat that nothing may be copied.

44 Atsuko Tanaka

45 Atsuko Tanaka Electric Dress 1956

46 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 Tanaka’s fusion went well beyond academic commentary on technology and women’s 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. Tanaka’s light conceals as it reveals. Mark Stevens, New York Magazine, Sept. 27, 2004

47 Yellow Cotton 1955

48 Bells 1955

49 "The material as the actual source of interest
"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 Tanaka

50 Work 1955

51 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 ..."

52 Recent Paintings 2001

53 Shozo Shimamoto Please Walk on Here 1955 Canon Painting 1956

54 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.

55 Fluxus 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

56 George Maciunas Fluxmanifesto
To establish artist’s 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.”

57 Fluxkits Claes Oldenburg

58 Flux Year Box 2, ed. Maciunas late 60s

59 Beuys Everess 1968

60 Beuys The Silence 1973

61 Beuys Banknote 1979

62 Beuys New York Subway Poster 1983

63 Fluxus Piano

64 Happenings Generally credited as originating with Allan Kaprow’s 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.

65 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 theater.

66 Darko Suvin’s 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

67 Allan Kaprow

68 Kaprow’s 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.

69 Kaprow 18 Happenings in 6 Parts, Fall 1959

70 18 Happenings redo 2007

71 Jim Dine Car Crash Nov. 1960

72 Allan Kaprow: Push and Pull A Furniture Comedy for Hans Hoffmann, 1963

73 Push and Pull reinvention 2007

74 Kaprow 2005

75 Allan Kaprow Spring Happening 1961

76 Robert Whitman Mouth 1961

77 Ben Patterson Licking Piece 1964

78 Josef Beuys I Like America and America Likes Me 1974

79 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 significance.

80 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 exploded. From Happening and Other Acts, ed. Mariellen Sandford, Routledge, 1995

81 Anna Halprin

82 Halprin Teaching

83 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 untrained.

84 Alison Knowles

85 Links Eco Art Happenings The Fluxus Performance Workbook

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