We look forward to seeing you at the exhibition opening on March 31th from 6-9pm!
Fluxus is frequently described as both an international and an intermediary avant-garde movement: In the 1960s, Fluxus actions not only encompassed at least three continents – America, Asia, and Europe – but also had the ambition to work across classical artistic media, by artists of all disciplines as well as non-professionally trained art practitioners.
Takako Saito, for example, studied child psychology and professionalized artistically through the Sōzō biiku undō (Sōbi) movement in Japan in the 1950s, eventually moving to New York in 1963, while Ben Patterson initially worked as a trained contrabassist in various orchestras in America and Europe in the 1950s, then devoted himself to performance in the 1960s, and finally, back in New York, pursued a degree as a librarian. Shigeko Kubota, after studying sculpture in Japan, also moved to New York in 1964. There she joined the scene of Fluxus artists and continued her art studies.
The three artists Kubota, Saito and Patterson are united by an artistic strategy of the intermedial, which was and is also influenced by their transnational experiences. This cosmopolitanism of the three can quickly be romanticized as a new, enriching or otherwise positively occupied potential to dive into other cultures again and again. However, on closer inspection, these shifts between continents and countries must at least be classified as ambivalent: Patterson, for example, has had experiences with racism throughout his life, up to and including professional exclusions as a professional musician and thus forced changes of country, and has repeatedly addressed these experiences anew in his works, while Kubota and Saito, with their move, left a narrow, patriarchal Japanese culture and were seeking in New York the possibility of exploring their self-empowerment as women and artists. But here, too, all three encountered limitations-Ben Patterson the New York avant-garde’s lack of interest in supporting the concerns of black people, Shigeko Kubota and Takako Saito the structural limitations not only of immigration laws but of Western varieties of chauvinism.