torsdag den 22. november 2012


I once met an artist who put his entire archive in pickle jars and sold it on the condition that if the buyer decided to open them, he or she would destroy the documents, memorise their contents and pass them on orally. During the last two years, while I was busy collecting eye witness statements for the Lunatic exhibition, it struck me that with Fluxus, the opposite is the case. There turned out to be a surprisingly large number of people still around in Denmark who had witnessed Fluxus events and had a large stock of Fluxus anecdotes they passed around to their friends or acquaintances, but that had never been written down. Composers such as Ib Nørholm, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, Per Nørgaard, Fuzzy and Axel Borup Jørgensen were involved in the organization of Fluxus concerts, wrote about them or simply witnessed them, not because they felt in any way connected to Fluxus, but simply because they thought it was a phenomenon that deserved attention.

Today, on the 50th anniversary of the first official meeting between Fluxus and Denmark, I would like to make a case for the importance of making sure that these people’s memories – their tall stories and amusing anecdotes – can continue to circulate. Effectively, what they have done is to keep Fluxus alive for 50 years. I feel especially privileged to have had the possibility of speaking to Axel Borup-Jørgensen, who was seriously ill and recently passed away, aged 88. His memories of the first-ever Fluxus festival on Danish soil, a six day event that was held at Nikolaj Church between 23 and 28 November 1962, were unbelievably vivid and gave a very strong impression, not only of the historical event, but also, and perhaps even more so, of the way such an event can stay with a person for the rest of a lifetime. It is important that an effort is made to ensure that these events, and especially the personal stories about them, can continue to circulate even when the eyewitnesses to which they attach themselves, are no longer with us.

While working on the Lunatic project, I have thought a lot about the difference between research and scholarship. At its most basic, research must be the retrieval of evidence, pure and simple. It is important work, but it is not scholarship. An essential prerequisite for it, but nothing more. Scholarship presupposes a contextualization of the material collected by means of research, a qualified effort to make it speak. It is tempting to conclude that research without scholarship is useless. However, precisely these stories, their living character, their obvious subjectivity, can make me consider the merits of the opposite as well. I could also be persuaded to say that the personal quirks these stories display and their stubborn refusal to come together in a unified narrative have merits entirely their own.  It is important to write them down, where they can join other types of evidence to create a coherent account of the events in hand, but it is equally important that they can circulate. Why? Because they do not draw the straight line of a scholarly argument but indicate a vague field within which everyone can find a pattern for themselves. They can promote living history.

Now I should note straight away that they can only do so if all the available accounts are granted the same status. As soon as a dominant account emerges, the others will group themselves around it in difference or conformity. This goes for the oral accounts of privileged individuals such as the performers and artists involved, but also for apparently solid documents such as photographs and film and audio recordings. Like oral accounts, the latter also contain elements of selection and translation. This said, I would nevertheless like to end this special 50th anniversary blog entry with a double call: for everyone to continue to tell stories about Fluxus events and for people who possess such stories to come forward and share them with all the rest of us. Both are necessary if we are to preserve Fluxus as a living phenomenon and  something to have a stake in.

Ingen kommentarer:

Send en kommentar