MISSION OF THE SECRET HISTORIES MUSEUM

The Secret Histories Museum discovers and presents historical evidence in order to seek understanding of ourselves and our world in between history and the future. The mission of the museum is to deepen the understanding of past choices; present circumstances and future possibilities; strengthen the bonds of community; and facilitate solutions to common problems.

Secret Histories Museum
3636 S Iron St
Second floor
Chicago Il 60409
Phone: 773.837.0145
Hours: Saturday and Sunday 12pm to 5pm
Fluxus on LSD
[installation, mixedmedia, performance]

Was pere Mayor Daley a dupe of Secret Fluxus?
In 1961, Ben Vautier [100% Fluxman] wrote a performance score “POLICE” whose simple instructions;

PERFORMERS DISGUISED AS POLICE OFFICERS
PUSH THE AUDIENCE TO THE STAGE.

might be read as the underlying script of the 1968 Chicago Police riots, where the audience of the Yippie be-in were launched towards the national spotlights by Daley’s heavy-handed interpretation…

Or did a local and previously unknown connection belatedly heed the 1963 call for Fluxus Propaganda Actions, including “pickets & demonstrations” and demanding “sabotage and disruption” of city-wide systems such as transportation, communication and culture? Detailed instructions for carrying out such actions was mailed to a variety of contacts in the now-notorious “Fluxus News-Policy Letter No.6” dated April 6th 1963. Unsurprisingly, this melodramatic poetry sparked enormous debate within the group of anarchists, drop-outs, intellectuals and contrarian creators known as Fluxus, and has subsequently been the focus of considerable academic study, resulting in more confusion and dissent around our present understanding of what Fluxus was and what it means.



Fluxus has been described as the “most radical and experimental art movement of the ‘sixties”, although its heritage in subsequent decades has been so pervasive that ideas and actions which were then utterly new, strange and
explosive are now ubiquitous, unsurprising, and orthodox enough to have become the position from which many contemporary artists begin. Fluxus introduced intermedia, interactivity and humour to an artworld then dominated by serious men who created discrete works of painting, sculpture, poetry, or music for a passive and preferably respectful audience. Fluxus anti-art, anti-poetry, and anti-music were promoted by devices such as performative events, impossible concepts, sight gags, found ephemera, and Zen-influenced enigma, among other radically new approaches to creativity, centred on the empowerment of the audience - or rather opening possibilities for any audience to celebrate their imaginations untrammeled by inhibition, tradition, prejudice or convention.

Fluxus helped to introduce more than these elementary notions, however. Artists’ collaborations, mail-art networks, the mass-production and distribution of multiple editions, books and film-loops through a mail-order warehouse – cheap and expendable, concerned with insignificances but exquisitely designed and ranging from the wry to the hilarious – such efforts paralleled the development of the event and the interdisciplinary enquiry.

Fluxus was given its name in Germany, at some point in 1961, although many of the ideas and actions closely associated with Fluxus art had been coalescing since the late 1950s. Similarly, the constituents of the group had been gathering in disparate clusters for some years before the Festum Fluxorum – a tour across Europe where the style and personnel of Fluxus first fused. Loose collaborations such as the Yam Festival cooked up by George Brecht and Robert Watts in New Jersey; casual associations such as Dick Higgins and Al Hansen’s ‘New York Audio-visual Group’; and previously active units like Japan’s ‘Hi Red Center’, or the Scandinavian ‘Gruppe fra ekperimentalmalerskolen’ were to join a common front of artists to promote ideas which were – and continue to be – arguable, shifting, even contradictory.

From the outset, Fluxus was a community of people: the individual works – from the dense political happenings of German Wolf Vostell, to the everyday aesthetics of Alison Knowles, or the hilarious confessions of Ben Vautier –
varied widely, despite some attempts to give them stylistic or political coherence. The artists subsumed their differences, without denying them, in the knowledge that the alternative was an eternally marginal status. It was a deliberately international community, seeking like-minded experimenters from far-flung provinces and unlikely locations: originally imagined as a periodical, Fluxus was intended to anthologise the latest and most innovative activity wherever it might be found. Flyers for the first exhibition of Fluxus objects – held in London, 1962 – advertised the activities of…
Robert Filliou, one-eyed good-for-nothing Huguenot
Gustav Metzger, escaped Jew
Robin Page, Yukon lumberjack
Benjamin Patterson, captured alive Negro
Daniel Spoerri, Rumanian adventurer
Per Olaf Ultveldt, the red-faced strongman from Sweden
Ben Vauthier, God’s broker
Emmett Williams, the Pole with the elephant memory

Fluxus was named by Lithuanian-born designer Yurgis [George] Maciunas, and he continued to try and impose pattern and form to the shifting allegiances and mutating concepts of Fluxus until his death in 1978. When first introduced to the experimental art community, Maciunas was an importer of musical instruments from Europe and one of two partners in a New York art space, ‘AG Gallery’, with fellow Lithuanian ex-patriot, Almius Salcius. [There he first showed Yoko Ono in the months leading up to the formation of Fluxus, before he decamped to the then Federal German Republic, working for the US military.] Maciunas was connected to the Lithuanian community in New York by his mother, with whom he lived, and his schoolboy friend Jonas Mekas, whose efforts to found and grow the New York Cinematheque paralleled his own unceasing work for Fluxus. Another school friend, the composer Vytautis Landsbergis, was to become President of Lithuania after the dissolution of the Soviet empire, leading Fluxus co-founder Nam June Paik to posit the idea of a Fluxus country.

A previously unknown - possibly even secret - connection concerned a fourth school-mate from the old country, Arunas Vasys, whose activities in the Bridgeport Fluxus cell have still to be understood. Was Vasys planning to co-opt Healthy Food and other local Lithuanian entities into Maciunas’ designs for “a common front”? Did Vasys try to ‘detourne’ Mayor Daley Sr. as part of Maciunas’ attempts to make Fluxus “Purge the world of Bourgeois sickness, intellectual, professional and commercialized culture…Promote a revolutionary Flood and Tide…and …Fuse the cadres of cultural, social & political revolutionaries into united front and action”?

As part of this year’s Select Media Festival, Fluxus on LSD presents for the first time a recently discovered collection of objects, texts and images, presumed to have been sent to Vasys by Maciunas in his ongoing efforts to proselytize his ideas about the group he named, organized, designed for, and ultimately tried to control.










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EXHIBITS
:

_Archigo
_Fluxus on LSD
_Secret Orders, Societies and Pasts
_America Eats Its Young: The Next Generation
_folk ADD
_Virgin Mary of the JFK Expressway
_Potential Energies
_SILVER measure Interviews
_The Pecker of Bridgeport