To begin with, it documents a long list of (European) Fluxus events that have until now not received particularly much attention. After all, if we mean what we say when we underline the international character of Fluxus, there is really no reason why we should limit ourselves to events in Germany, France and England. But the verb “to document” is important as well: we, the contributors to the catalogue, have generously agreed to list all the documentation we know of and to reproduce a fair chunk of it. This makes the catalogue a massive collection – over 600 pages – of primary material that can freely be used by others and that will make it possible for the events we describe to find a place amongst those other, much better documented festivals and concerts.
But there is more. Every event is described in as much detail as is possible with the material we have, but we make virtually no attempt to link them. This means that the reader is free to make his/her own connections and to impose his/her own order on the material, an approach that suits the nomadic character of Fluxus much more than the traditional scholarly one in which the authors with a great show of authority tell their readers what to think. Despite the amazing work done by George Maciunas, the history of Fluxus is very much a concatenation of incidents. The best way to understand it is by trying to bring your face right up close and follow all the small moves made by all the various actors – much better, in any case, than retreating to the distance and trying to discern a general line of development. This is quite a claim to make, but I’m sure that I’ll get the opportunity to explain myself in one of the daily blog entries that I hope to write from now on.
Finally, in focusing on the single events, the catalogue also steers away from the game of “Who’s Fluxus? Who’s Not! Why” that is all too often played. It is not difficult to see why it is played, and I think most people will also agree that it is necessary, but I still think it is a redeeming feature of the catalogue that it does not discern between Fluxus artists and all the others. It simply mentions everyone involved without applying a priori selection criteria – and therewith without trying to locate Fluxus in the bodies and minds of those involved. Just as it focuses on the single event, it also focuses on the single actor and the single act. This type of atomisation could be considered problematic, but at least it resists any tendencies towards (over-)simplification and any urge to slip into old modernist ideas about the artist as genius. Fluxus was – and is – well beyond that.
So let’s count the days. That catalogue ought to be the pride and joy of every self-respecting Fluxus devotee.