Influences | Fluxus | Contemporary | Classical
Inspired by Cage’s pioneering mixed-media events of the 1950s, Fluxus was an informal group of composers, artists and perfomers founded by the Lithuanian-born artist and architect George Maciunas (1931–78). After its first concert in Wiesbaden (1962), it remained active in Europe and the US intermittently until Maciunas’s death. The group also included the composers La Monte Young (b. 1935), Tenney and Nam June Paik (1932–2006), and the artist and performer Yoko Ono (b. 1933), who later married John Lennon. While it had no formal manifesto, the group shared Cage’s resistance to the conventional distinctions between art and everyday life. Fluxus performances centred around ‘events’, actions usually described in short verbal instructions to the performer. Many of these involved critiques of familiar concert-hall rituals, subverting conventional relationships both between performers and musical instruments (which Paik would often destroy on stage) and between performers and audiences (in Young’s Composition 1960 No. 6, the performers are instructed simply to sit and watch the audience). By the 1980s and 1990s, Fluxus-type ‘performance art’ was more commonly encountered in art galleries than in concert halls, but its activities did much to demonstrate to composers that within a concert environment, anything and everything was possible.
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