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Doing Things Together: Objectives and Effects of Harald Szeemann’s Happening & Fluxus, 1970

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Harald Szeemann’s exhibition Happening & Fluxus (Kölnischer Kunstverein 1970) was the first to bring Fluxus into an institutional art world context. Previously avoiding such situations, Fluxus had primarily grown through artist-based networking, collaboration and self-curation during the 1960s. The exhibition evoked conflict both before and after the opening but had surprisingly little impact on Fluxus’s aftermath. This article explores Szeemann’s art historical take on the works in Happening & Fluxus. It concludes that by reducing attention to Fluxus’s collaborative strategies and network structure, Szeemann overlooked the characteristics that are today acknowledged as the group’s most significant.
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Keywords: Fluxus; Happening & Fluxus; Harald Szeemann; Kölnischer Kunstverein; Viennese Actionists; Wolf Vostell; happenings; performance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Stockholm University

Publication date: 01 April 2017

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  • The Journal of Curatorial Studies is an international, peer-reviewed publication that explores the cultural functioning of curating and its relation to exhibitions, institutions, audiences, aesthetics and display culture. The journal takes a wide perspective in the inquiry into what constitutes "the curatorial." Curating has evolved considerably from the connoisseurship model of arranging objects to now encompass performative, virtual and interventionist strategies. While curating as a spatialized discourse of art objects remains important, the expanded cultural practice of curating not only produces exhibitions for audiences to view, but also plays a catalytic role in redefining aesthetic experience, framing cultural conditions in institutions and communities, and inquiring into constructions of knowledge and ideology.
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