My father strolled, my uncles strolled, and so does Fluxus. The word “stroller” is not my own. I heard it at my uncle’s funeral. A strange woman said it. I did not know her. I suppose my uncle did. He knew a lot of people. When it came time for folks to say a few words about the deceased, the woman stood up and said, “He was a stroller.” Everyone laughed. At first I thought she was calling him a baby carriage but I knew what she meant.
Posts in ‘Fluxus’
This week MoMA launches Instruction Lab in the mezzanine of the Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building, inspired by the Fluxus works included in the current Contemporary Art from the Collection exhibition.
Upon opening an orange faux-reptile-skin box marked only with the typed words “top” and “pull,” we received quite a surprise: out jumped a coiled toy snake and a shower of confetti printed with the words “New Flux Year.” Rattled, we soon found that the joke was on us, as we were left returning every last scrap of paper, along with the spring-loaded snake, back into the box before shutting it carefully.
We found this note attached to an object shrouded in tissue and quarantined within three Ziploc bags.
“Thus there is in the life of a collector a dialectical tension between the poles of disorder and order,” philosopher and critic Walter Benjamin observed in his 1931 lecture Unpacking My Library. In the museum’s tidy spaces, where a predominant curatorial objective is to make sense out of the jumbled reality of things, this opposition between organization and chaos captures the imagination. As my colleagues and I begin to work with the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift recently acquired by the MoMA—highlights of which are currently on view in the Fluxus Preview exhibition on the fourth floor—Benjamin’s proposal repeatedly comes to mind.
During recent months, Fluxus has begun making waves in MoMA galleries. This past October, Fluxus Preview opened on the fourth floor and continues to provide a sampling of the diverse activities carried out by artists engaged with a rebellious approach in the 1960s and 1970s. Most recently, true to Fluxus’s irreverent sensibility, derrières—hundreds of female asses—have taken over a space on the third floor of the Museum. The work is Yoko Ono and George Maciunas’s Fluxus Wallpaper, which repeats black-and-white close-ups of a human behind from floor to ceiling.
A still from Ono’s Film Number 4 (Bottoms), this wallpapered image is of one of the (allegedly) 365 individuals who walked for the artist’s camera in London during the early 1960s. As Ono once described Film Number 4, it is “like an aimless petition signed by people with their anuses”—a collective mooning in support of the absurd. Maciunas took one of these signature back ends, possibly Ono’s own, and printed it in fashion that enabled the provocation to occupy any receptive surface.
The wallpaper is part of The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection Gift, acquired in 2008. It is currently on display in conjunction with the exhibition Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography.
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