23 March - 24 June 2007
From Fluxus to the Internet
Interview with György Galántai, the curator of the Parastamp exhibition (excerpt)
György Galántai: When it was decided that the exhibition shouldn't just be about the last twenty years but rather that the museum wanted to use parastamps to display representative material from the last forty years ranging from Fluxus to the Internet, I could then only think along these lines. The artistamps produced over forty years could not be put together according to earlier approaches because the only result would be a meaningless medley. If we think of the world in a linear sense, we won't get any further forward, because the world does not work in a linear way - it's constantly changing and there's always some new "trick" coming into play.
From the point of view of the artistamp, the two concepts in the exhibition's title - Fluxus and the Internet - are abstract notions pertaining to the history of art and technology. That's why I came to the decision that I would create a sphere of concepts which is also abstract but which in itself includes the two other concepts and is able to fill in the entire space between the two endpoints defined by these two concepts. These are: humourism - erotism - time - place - artist - material - structure - function - form - science - art - politics - global - local - glocal - telematic. At first glance these concepts have nothing to do with the artistamp, and even if they had any connection, it would be a vague one. The new function artistamp has in this exhibition is to convey the explosively changing worldview at the turn of the millennium with the help of perspectives offered by these interrelated but at the same time distinct concepts.
I was finally able to decide to use these concepts as an organising principle when I found two convincing antecedents. One of these was Henry Flynt, who says, "I can now return to the question of why concept art is 'art'. Why isn't it an absolutely new, or at least a non-artistic, non-aesthetic activity? The answer is that the antecedents of concept art are commonly regarded as artistic, aesthetic activities; on a deeper level, interesting concepts enjoyable in themselves, especially as they occur in mathematics, are commonly said to 'have beauty'." The second antecedent was George Brecht, from whom I found out that "There was a very interesting book which came out near the end of the 1950s called The Field Theory of Meaning, in which it was shown that the meaning of a word, rather than being related to the structure of a sentence, for example, was related to a field."
As suggested by its title the exhibition begins with Fluxus, with humour, gags and jokes being its most important features. Hence the starting concept of the exhibition: humourism. According to George Maciunas, the frontman of Fluxus, " films, everything, concerts, sports events, food, whatever we did, even serious things like a Mass ended up to be humorous." Ben Vautier wrote of Fluxus, "It would not have come into being without Cage, who carried out double brainwashing. First in contemporary music, through the concept of indeterminability, and the second through his theses conceived in the spirituality of Zen and teaching to impersonalise art."
The second concept of the exhibition is erotism, which originates from Marcel Duchamp, who said, "I believe firmly in erotism because it's actually generally present in the whole world, and is a thing that people understand. It can replace, if it wants, everything else that other literary schools call symbolism and romanticism."
The protagonists of the exhibition are the artist, the work and art. Most concepts are related to these. For example, the artist appears in a way far from the general concept of an artist: he is not a creative genius but rather a communication partner, or networker. If somebody is an artist - as it has been believed for a couple of hundred years -, that person is supposed to be either a genius or a madman. The concept of art is about what can be seen on the exhibition poster: art recreates that which already exists; thus, changing the Mona Lisa destroys the Mona Lisa but it also recreates it. Actually, in addition to E.F. Higgins III's sheet many others are exhibited on this theme as a small Mona Lisa "section".
Three factors determine whether a work is real: the artist who creates it, the place where it comes into being, and the time when it is produced. Determining what is real belongs to the realm of self-determination. For a work to be not only authentic but also true the unity of four additional factors is necessary, these being: the material, the structure, the function and the form.
The next three concepts - science, art and politics - originate from Vilém Flusser, who said, "It is becoming more and more obvious that it makes no sense to draw a sharp line between science, art and politics. Let's accept it that in science, fictional, artistic and poetical momentums are at work alongside the political-normative elements, and that there is a search for truth in the arts and politics. We have to stop making a distinction between valueless reading (science) and interpretive reading (art and politics). Along with Rilke we have to admit that we have been making the mistake of finding too successful a distinction. If we prove to be good at learning, however, surprises await us. If ever science, art and politics form a unified method of reading, things we have not even begun to suspect about the world and ourselves will be read."
The concepts global, local and glocal are interpreted in the background of telematics. It is here that we can continue our exhibition tour on the Internet. The web pages, which form part of the exhibition, begin with one worded page as well as sixteen pages with pictures arranged according to themes i.e. the exhibition has that many entrances, but every page is accessible from every other page. Earlier sites dealing with stamps have been developed and have a link to the homepage of the Artpool Artistamp Museum, from where the whole network can be reached in just a few steps, and not just in Artpool but in the whole world. The interesting thing about the Artpool network is that one can walk between the pages in many different ways, e.g. in the form of a museum tour. In the present exhibition this means that we are modelling the exhibition so everything that is here can be seen on the other side of the world.
Finally, I would like to quote Heiko Idensen's vision: "Travel routes, departure and arrival points draw tracks, paths, and traffic routes, mark nodes, bases and cities in the landscapes of telematic networks. With each journey, each on-line adventure, the network of interconnections expands... If these communicative connections, communication acts, up and down-loads, acts of sending and receiving... combine with object oriented hypertext programs, then the most disparate data forms, information carriers, cultural production forms mix on a communal surface: the utopian vision of a comprehensive telematic network, in which the forms of individual production change into social communication."
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