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  • Fluxus Long Weekend
  • Alison Knowles (bio)

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Shuffle, a drawing by Alison Knowles. Pencil on laid paper, 8¾″ by 11″.

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The Tate Modern in London proposed the Fluxus Long Weekend to run May 24–27, 2008.

I was invited to perform three event scores from the sixties: Make a Salad, Newspaper Music, and Shuffle. The event score Make a Salad had premiered at the ICA in London in 1962. Larry Miller was invited to suggest pieces for performance and to organize the Fluxus Olympiad but he was absent due to illness and was replaced by Simon Anderson from the Art Institute of Chicago. We all gathered in London the week before to prepare for the Weekend celebration in the Turbine Hall of the Tate, curated by Kathy Noble and Alice Koegel.

The first piece Make a Salad took place late afternoon on May 24th. We were at the nearby Borough Market to select the organic greens and vegetables the day before. The decision was to work with Tate’s professional chefs on the bridge straddling the hall, cutting and chopping the more than 100 kilos of lettuce, radishes, carrots, and tomatoes, in addition to spring onions and chives. A cellist, Lucy Railton, accompanied the initial sounds of making the salad. All the chopping tables on the bridge were miked and the sounds carried throughout the hall. Before a crowd of 2500 people the lettuce was dumped over the bridge to fall twenty-five feet onto a tarp supported on all sides by Goldsmiths College students. Salad dressing followed, poured from above. The salad was tossed in the tarp and raked with a sterile metal garden rake. This salad may be the largest recorded in human history!

Each day the Turbine Fluxus Olympiad, the creation of the late George Maciunas, came alive with children, students, curators, and the audience participating. Relays and board games were organized with “prepared” ping-pong paddles with holes in them and tennis rackets six feet high! These games went on each of the three days with soft astro turf underfoot. Simon Anderson and Sara Seagull directed the events.

Newspaper Music had the participation of twenty or more Goldsmiths students. (This is also the largest participation we know of for this event.) Each chose a reading [End Page 140] from a newspaper of his/her language. A newspaper was read in sign language. The readings took place simultaneously while I served as “volume” conductor.

12 Piano Compositions for Nam June Paik by George Maciunas was directed by Sara Seagull following suggestions by cell phone from Larry Miller. Goldsmiths students dismembered the piano with saws while wearing white coverall suits. Simon Anderson drilled holes in the keys before nailing them down. Seagull and students painted the piano white with orange highlights, signaling the end of this classic Fluxus event score from the Wiesbaden performance of 1962.

Shuffle was conceived as a sound poem for the shoes and the floor. Also it provided a way for performers to enter and leave the stage by forming a conga line, holding each other by the waist. Anderson acted as a guide, wearing his elegant gray silk tuxedo, as I led the shuffle. [End Page 141]


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Make a Salad, a drawing by Alison Knowles on laid paper, 8¾″ by 11″.

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Chopping salad on the bridge of the Tate Modern during the performance of Make a Salad, Fluxus Long Weekend at the Tate Modern, May 24–27, 2008.

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Dropping salad off the bridge to tarp below. Photos: Sheila Burnett. Courtesy Tate Modern.


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Alison Knowles raking lettuce during the performance. Photos: Sheila Burnett. Courtesy Tate Modern.

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Newspaper Music, a drawing by Alison Knowles. Pencil on laid paper, 8¾″ by 11″.

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Alison Knowles conducting the performance of Newspaper Music. Photo: Sheila Burnett. Courtesy Tate Modern.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 139-148
Launched on MUSE
2008-12-18
Open Access
No
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