May 18, 2012


John Lennon visited a Fluxus exhibit by Yoko Ono on November 9th, 1966 and he was struck by the playfulness and positive imagining in the work. Although Fluxus Art may seem bizarre to the uninitiated, it shares whimsical and conceptual qualities with Dada, the do-it-yourself aesthetic, a political avant-garde, and the philosophies of John Cage. Yoko's show was at the Indica Gallery, a gallery owned by Peter Asher, John Dunbar, and Barry Miles, and backed by Paul McCartney (group seen below at the opening of Indica with Marianne Faithfull). 

Reflecting on his first meeting with Yoko, John Lennon said, "I got the humor in her work immediately. I didn't have to have much knowledge about avant-garde or underground art, the humor got me straightaway. There was a fresh apple on a stand - this was before Apple - and it was two hundred quid to watch the apple decompose. But there was another piece that really decided me for-or-against the artist: a ladder which led to a painting which was hung on the ceiling. It looked like a black canvas with a chain with a spyglass hanging on the end of it. This was near the door when you went in. I climbed the ladder, you look through the spyglass and in tiny little letters it says 'yes'. So it was positive. I felt relieved. It's a great relief when you get up the ladder and you look through the spyglass and it doesn't say 'no' or 'fuck you' or something, it said 'yes'."

Filmmaker Jeffrey Perkins is currently working on a new documentary film about the Fluxus art movement. He was also initiated into Fluxus by Yoko in the 1960s and she appears in the new film. With seven days left to fund production of the movie through Kickstarter, Perkins has already conducted interviews with such luminaries as Ono, Jonas Mekas, Jon Hendricks, Alison Knowles, Nam June Paik, and Peter Frank. Consider becoming a backer at the project's Kickstarter page. As a rich element in the history of art in the late 1950s and 1960s, Fluxus deserves the in-depth look that this documentary will provide. Plus, one of my former filmmaking students is working on the film! Spy Vibe has contributed to the production of the film. Read more about Fluxus and Jeffrey Perkins at Art in America.

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