ASRL / PERPETUAL 2014
 
Thing/Thought: Fluxus at MOMA
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 08-04-11
Willem de Ridder. European Mail-order Warehouse/Fluxshop. Winter 1964-65. photo: Wim van der Linden/MAI. The Museum of Modern Art
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Recently we covered the exhibition of editions at the Gallery Perrotin in Paris, which featured catalogs, multiples, and posters, by Takashi Murakami, Joseph Beuys and Marcel Duchamp. The issue came up then as to whether and how the artist-signed reproductions, manufactured series, and microcosmic miniatures (like the Box en Valise, kits which held small versions of Duchamp's entire ouevre),  can be vehicles for the democratization of art or simply more efficient means of commodity production and distribution, or both...

The September-January Fluxus exibition at MOMA, "Thing/Thought: Fluxus Editions," (mostly derived from the museum's tremendous 2009 haul of work from that movement), provides fresh grist for that debate. It showcases Fluxus 'zines, photography, musical scores, scripts for performances, sometimes stored in Box en Valise-style kits (and indeed Fluxus surely got this idea from grandaddy Duchamp.) None of the Fluxus artists have quite the iconic profile of Duchamp, Murakami or Beuys (partly because their ideology tended to shun individualism). This tends to make their claims to populism seem a priori more plausible, though perhaps the facility of this judgment should be questioned.

 In any case, witty, sardonic, serious, irreverent, quasi-metaphysical, avowedly ephemeral, strangely persistent Fluxus is a train always worth riding on for at least a while. A further glimpse into MOMA's cache will be a welcome development for the fall.

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