Alison Knowles and Fluxus: Live-action art

by Nayeli Rodriguez

Co-founder of the Fluxus group and influential performance artist Alison Knowles has been at Harvard all semester as a fellow with the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and last week addressed an audience at the Carpenter Center, giving students and members a chance not only to hear about her world-renowned live-action art."Fluxus is concerned with process and fluidity, randomness, and impartiality to the result," said Knowles during her lecture. "Fluxus event pieces thrive on the unpredicted occurrence." She elaborated on several key concepts within the Fluxus movement, showing slides of works on which she had collaborated with other well-known artists including Marcel Duchamp and Hans-Ulrich:

"Flying Hearts" (with Marcel Duchamp)

"Celebration Red" (with Hans-Ulrich)

Knowles also distinguished Fluxus from abstract expressionism as exemplified by Jackson Pollock stating that Fluxus artists' works are "about as different from Pollock's concern as an artist as you can get." "Dynamic" and "impersonal," said Knowles, Fluxus pieces are more "directly related to the artist who makes them."To conclude her address, Knowles and several undergraduates performed one of her pieces entitled "Onion Skin Song," replacing the onion skins Knowles normally incorporates into the piece with Cambridge autumn leaves: