Artpool40Active Archives and Art Networks

International Conference of the Artpool Art Research Center

February 20–21, 2020 Museum of Fine Arts, Schickedanz Hall, Budapest

Agustina Andreoletti | Zdenka Badovinac | David Crowley | Katalin Cseh-Varga | Mela Dávila Freire | Lina Džuverović | Meghan Forbes | Daniel Grúň | Sarah Haylett | John Held | Roddy HunterJudit Bodor | Jasna JakšićTihana Puc | Klara Kemp-Welch | Kaja Kraner | Emese Kürti | Karolina Majewska-Güde | Lívia Páldi | Henar Rivière | Sven Spieker | Kristine Stiles | Katalin Timár | Tomasz Załuski | Elisabeth Zimmermann

Henar Rivière [Biography]
Fluxus and the Archive as Agent Provocateur


Some of the main Fluxus archives, today housed at established cultural institutions such as the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles (USA) and the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (Germany), were assembled under the stimulus and guidance of first-generation Fluxus artists (George Maciunas and Wolf Vostell in the cases mentioned). This tells us that these pioneers of network-based art practices were keenly aware from the very outset of the crucial role played by the document in — and within — their artistic praxis. Moreover, it indicates the importance they placed on the archive as a space where these documents were compiled and preserved in the expectation that they would eventually be activated as devices for a new approach to art history.

The purpose of this paper is to show that understanding the archival practice as a creative process aimed at redefining the past, transforming the present, and envisioning the future was inherent to the new artistic developments taking place under the Fluxus umbrella from the early 1960s onwards. The early forms of performative and network-based art practices posed a challenge, both to the historiography and the economy of art, that would naturally extend to the archive as an alternative cultural institution: a sort of foreign body pushing from outside the walls of the official art system that would eventually succeed in opening up a crack by infiltrating established cultural institutions. These, which we can call Other Archives (paraphrasing Ulises Carrión), required, and still do so, other stories and histories of art, other research methodologies, and historiographical constructs, as well as other curatorial and museological practices. Insofar as this step emanates directly from the very artistic practices they bear witness to, these Other Archives can be seen as channeling the transformative power of those artistic practices to the historiographical, curatorial and museographical practices.

A selection of case studies from the Fluxus network, ranging from Mail Art and collective projects to Artists’ Archives and publications, will illustrate how the transformative power of the early forms of performative and network-based art practices was largely based on a documental approach aimed at shifting the rules of the game of the art system.