Thing/Thought: Fluxus Editions 1962-1978Painting |
'60s Pranksters Get Their Due
Visually underwhelming but conceptually incisive, the MoMA retrospective of the 1960s-era Avant-Gardists Fluxus focuses mostly on their editions: reproductions meant to be distributed internationally through a mail-order system in an effort to propagate their anti-art message. Consisting mostly of small post cards, prints and photos, it also includes films, custom-designed chess sets and automated self-playing musical instruments, the exhibit sprawls but never strays from its founder's mischievous ethos - a disavowal of "art" in an attempt at its reaffirmation. Beneath the surface of the gags -- a tiny Fluxus suicide kit and glasses that are designed to poke the user in the eyes ("love is blind!") -- is a what-if approach to a cultural dead-end. The amorphous group of pranksters in the tradition of Dada are happy to give a shove to what they perceived as bourgeois notions of the artist as privileged seer requiring layers of curatorial and societal protection. A work by Czech artist Milan Knížák, who had his fellow citizens create a storm of paper airplanes to tweak the communist regime foreshadowed the Prague Spring, however, and suggests the group's project had much loftier goals than mere playfulness.