Happy Birthday Art!
January 17, 2013 3:39 PM   Subscribe

In 1963 French artist Robert Filliou, a member of Fluxus, proposed a public holiday to celebrate the presence of art in our lives. He decided that art had been invented on January 17th, 1,000,000 years prior, meaning 2013 is Art's 1,000,050th Annivesary!

Yoko Ono was a member of Fluxus, here is here Fluxus film One.
posted by furtive (6 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Art? I love that stuff! Happy birthday, art! I got you some Shaggs.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:44 PM on January 17, 2013

My love/hate for Fluxus knows no bounds. I have spent too much time, perhaps, thinking about fluxus, but only because it is such a seductive and puzzling thing. For there to be no distinction between art and life - to not even think about the two as entities at all. To live in a socialist-esque wonder world where everyone created at all times in all they did -making salads, lighting matches, reaching out a window. To not use art to reflect on life but to be art. To no longer need reflection because you are always living in the moment. To be absurd while dispensing of the notion that there are absurd and un-absurd things at all. It's attractive and vexing at the same time, just how the fluxus artists wanted it.

It was/is the culmination of art, the inevitable end of art. Danto didn't know about Fluxus when it was happening, but if he had, I imagine his work might have been quite a bit different. For it wasn't when art and life looked the same, a la Warhol, that art ended, it's when they became the same, a la Fluxus.

It's interesting that it didn't work out, really. We retreated. We chose instead mostly entertainment with murmurs of the artful here and there. Art seemed to come so far in the 50s and 60s, and yet here we are again half a century later, in love with the virtuosic and the spectacle and the formulaic as if most of the 20th century never happened. Give us our Mozarts and Liszts, we still say. We do not want to crawl inside the vaginas of living whales or buy an ice cream for a stranger. Because for whatever reason that didn't move us. Be clever, we said, be technical, be cute or dark or disgusting. But do not just be, because we are not moved by that.

And now, now fluxus seems so kitschy, most likely to the horror of the fluxus folks still around. Like so many things from the 60s it had an earnestness then that we are all now to cynical to come close to understanding. It had found such an optimism from within crisis and the mundane, and I respect it for that quite a bit.

The idea of art having a birthday is a wonderful bit of fluxus. The sort of thing that is completely serious and tongue in cheek all at the same time, by turns, the way all fluxus was/is - always a sense of humor but also a desperate seriousness.

I still love reading through the Fluxus Workbook, though Filliou isn't included (some of the artists he worked with, like Brecht and Williams, however, are).

Cheers to fluxus, and Happy Birthday Art!

and happy birthday to myself as well. Art and I might get a beer later, and talk about what it was like to be young and full of hope.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:40 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Seems like an appropriate place to post this wonderful song and video.
posted by oulipian at 4:44 PM on January 17, 2013

Cheers, art. You don't look a day over one million.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:51 PM on January 17, 2013

Lutoslawski, you are right. The work of Fluxus, working earnestly with the distinction between art and life, and well as the essential unity of art and life, two concepts I have been personally living for fifty years, was endearing and worthy of high praise. To be earnest and ironic at the same time is not an easy task.

Irony is the water in which we fish swim; it is second nature to us; it is difficult to think and act unironically these days. The supposed "Death of Irony"? Nope. Ain't gonna happen.

The aim of Fluxus was ambitious and was also achieved in such works as Yoko Ono's "One." Aesthetic beauty was not defenestrated, as it most certainly was in much of conceptual art. (Performance art is a category too fraught with overwrought theory and untalented actors that I'd prefer not to discuss here, although it was my preferred medium for half of the Eighties.)

Happy Birthday, Art. It makes life worth living. (Life makes life worth living, too.)
posted by kozad at 7:42 PM on January 17, 2013

I live in a very Fluxus-imbued part of the world here in Nice. Ben Vautier (aka Ben) is one of our local fluxus artists; they still hold get-togethers. I see his art every day on the tram stops, which have blackboard-like signs with sayings he wrote in his handwriting on them. There's also a modern art museum, Villa Arson, where he has a lot of his work displayed. He lives in the hills in the northern part of the city (public knowledge, and it's hard to miss his black house surrounded by art). Last year, for the 50th anniversary of fluxus, he also had himself on display, or visitors on display for being viewed by him, when he went.

Villa Arson is pretty great for learning more about other fluxus artists; well worth the visit if/when you're in Nice.

now fluxus seems so kitschy, most likely to the horror of the fluxus folks still around.

ai perdut la tramounta
posted by fraula at 1:10 AM on January 18, 2013

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