In 1959-60, in the USA, Dick Higgins organizes "Public Events" on a box ring on Madison Square. Judson Church (Greenwich Village) and the E-pit-o-me Coffee Shop are then two special places for the Events thanks to Alan Kaprow, Georges Brecht, Al Hansen, La Monte Young, Carolee Schneemann, Dick and Alison Knowles, Yoko Ono for instance.... All these innovating people are looking for a name for their group, and Maciunas will give it as he arrives in 1962 : Fluxus is born. But at the beginning Fluxus was the name of a periodical. After an european tour ( always in 1962) the press and foreign newspapers will assign this name to the members of the group since they are the ones who publish the periodical. There, Dick and Alison meet or find Chiari, Paik, Vostell, Andersen, Spoerri, Filliou, Ben Vautier, De Ridder, Patterson, and many more.
The main difference between Fluxus and other iconoclastic trends such as Futurism, Dadaism or Surrealism, is that Fluxus has never had to become a trend, a fashion. Maciunas has never had inside the group the authority that Breton did inside Surrealism. That is a major fact: that is why Fluxus is harder to define than most of the other trends.
Dick and la Monte Young are the 2 persons who have introduced Maciunas, whose formation was rather classical, avant-garde' like.
Fluxus, art in life. Nam June Paik said: "Fluxus looks like a Corean plant. It is just when it seems dead that it is about to flower".
Fluxus physically died when Maciunas did, but Fluxus survives thanks to those who continue to spread his spirit.
D. Higgins, Art-Action, Québec,1998.
Another important artist close to Fluxus : Jean Dupuy
At the same time, another artist influenced that period: Jean Dupuy. In 1967, he left France for NYC. He is the witness of great actions carried out by the artists for better material conditions and against the war of Viêt-Nam. He decides to stop painting and devotes himself to the technological Art. Thanks to " Heart Beats Dust " and " Cone Pyramid " in 1968, he gains the contest of Experiment in Art and Technology ". It is the beginning of its American success. Then, as he lives in large a loft, he invites artists, friends, to make other proposals. The idea of collective performances was born. Charlotte Moorman, Nam June Paik, Laurie Anderson, Claes Oldenburg, Charlemagne Palestine, George Maciunas, Carolee Schneemann, Joan Jonas, Philip Glass, Olga Adorno, Gordon Matta-Clark, Richard Serra, will connect short actions controlled by the duration and sometimes by an imposed device (Whitney Museum, Judson Church). In the Kitchen, he organizes the evening "Soup and Tart" where 40 artists make a small action not exceeding 2 minutes.
The state of mind of "Lazy Art" uses the principle of "laisser-faire" by letting do the works by the others. Most important according to Dupuy is
" to have fun ". And by chance, Charles Dreyfus helped him to arrange his loft in 1972 (in company of Philipp Glass). Jean Dupuy will get along so well with George Maciunas, such a complicity will link them, that he will inherit his loft at the death of the latter, not without generating certain jealousies.
Jean Dupuy and Sylvie Cotton, Festival Full Nelson, USA, 2002.
THE IMPORTANCE OF POETS.
No one nowadays would deny the founding and initiative role of poets in the making of the greatest artistical trends.
Baudelaire linked poetry to the world of art and made the poet becomes an artist, Rimbaud bounded art to life and Mallarmé changed the poem into a typographic ballet or into a score-poem. Avant-garde trends from the beginning of the century have been created by poets : Futurism by Marinetti, Dada by Tsara and Hausmann and many others, Merz by Schwitters and Cobra by Dotremont.
Cosmic and galactic space open by Mallarmé's "Coup de dés" in 1897 is very important for the 20th century art where are gathered two main notions : "chance" (hasard)(Mallarmé) and "silence"(John Cage).
Numerous writers read aloud their texts in front of a meditative, admiring audience. These Public Reading have nothing to do with Sound Poetry.
Listening to the Swiss Vincent Barras, this term established in the 50's (or changed according to the taste of the time after that the Dadaïst Hugo Ball, around the beginning of the century, used the term Laudgedicht or sound poem) specialy refered to experimentations leaded at the end of the 2nd world war by diverse pionners of electro-acoustic and concrete music (in France around Pierre Schaeffer).
Important also are language distroying directed during Dadaïst evenings of the Cabaret Voltaire, vocal and phonetic experimentation of creators such as Raoul Hausmann, Michel Seuphor, Pierre-Albert Birot and Kurt Schwitters and his famous Ursonate. As soon as the beginning of the 50's, poets all claim themselves as sound poets.
Sound Poetry is still rarely published by current medias. If one wanted to choose the favorite medium of Sound Poetry, - it would be, much more than books, discs or videos recording, - the body.
In France, Henri Chopin seeks for vocal microparticles, and uses all the diverse possibilities of the microphone, until entering one into his stomach. Bernard Heidsiek's action-poems are real miniature operas. This pioneer
( with Henri Chopin ) of Sound poetry since 1955 uses as soon as 1959 the tape recorder as another mean of writing and of broadcasting.
Several international sound poets are well known, as the Australians Amanda Stewart and Chris Mann, the Canadians Paul Dutton, Steve McCaffery, Mark Sutherland and Nobuo Kubota; in the Nedeerlands, Jaap Blonk, in Italia Giovanni Fontana, Enzo Minarelli, Nicolas Frangione, Massimo Arrigoni ; in Hungary, Katalyn Ladik, the young English Chris Jones and Alistair Noon, the list is over.
Festival Rethinking the Avant garde, leicester, 2001.
If I had to choose only one, it would be Julien Blaine. His gestures and his brutal metaphors are free from any constraining function, and make up meanings and rythms.
And to add another one, I would call the also excellent Joël Hubaut ,who, with his lack of restrain, his boor-like excesses and his proliferation shows an exacerbated sensibility.
And so as not to let him aside, I will end with the chaman, Serge Pey.
Robert Filiou in 1961, with its poem " With 53 kilos poem " use the word Action Poetry. "
It is not a question of writing a text any more, but an event: composing its organisation by sounds, objects, silences, gestures, breaths and texts which are the raw materials of the poem and its extension " (Jean-Noel Orenco, Hundred Titles).
Michel Métail, Jean-François Bory in France , Bartolomeo Ferrando in Spain, Bianca Menna, Arrigo Lorra-Tottino in Italy, Fernando Aguiar in Portugal, the list here also would be very long. Once again, all my excuses with the absent ones!
It is necessary to also mention the rising generation of poets, supported by Laurent Cauwet and Al Dante editions and largely applauded by Bernard Heidsieck. The latter bring to the poetic scene the necessary oxygen puff, and the young poets take over with poetry computer made up by Jacques Donguy, Philippe Castellin, Tibor Papp, Claude Maillard, the skinned poems of Katy Molnar, the prose of Christophe Tarkos, and those of the review Java, Vanina Maestri, Jacques Sivan and Jean-Michel Espitallier. Among them, Christophe Hanna, Christophe FIAT, Nathalie Quintane, Stéphane Bérard, Laure Limongi, Anne-James Chaton, Manual Joseph, Olivier Quintyn, Daniel Foucard, Eric Arlix, Jérome Gontier, Thibaud Baldacci.
The recent disappearance of the theorist and professor Nicholas Zurbrugg in October 2001 left a great vacuum in the performative and poetic areas which he defended and supported with the talent and enthusiasm that we know to him. His great knowledge in this field had inspired many publications and the creation of the Festival " Rethinking the Avant-Garde" at the University De Montfort, England, where he taught. His knowledge of the Australian continent where he had spent 17 years contributed to give this insatiable pioneer, curiosity necessary to the analysis of the varied influences representative of our time. His great originality, his sensitivity, his humour, and especially his generosity except standard let to all those which knew him the nostalgic memory of this delicious and unique man.