Thursday, 3 September 2015

Allan Kaprow & Doing Nothing

Falling (blow up detail), (A)RTomens c 2015


'Once, the critics and public had to be shown; now they are full of authority and the artists are full of doubts.'

Just finished the Allan Kaprow collection Essays On The Blurring Of Art And Life. The quote above is from his 1966 'Manifesto', predicting the rise of The People As Critics on the internet? It turned out that way. He was writing at a time when art seemed popular, presumably, due largely to Pop, no doubt. It's impossible to say that 'artists are full of ' anything, of course, unless you despise contemporary art as touted by critics, in which case you have perhaps said 'artists are full of shit'.

Kaprow's perceived 'doubts' in the minds of artists arose from the crisis of direction in art circa '66. If there was one. As a figure who helped the Happening to become a thing, he was at the forefront of crisis management. You could say he was a main instigator of the crisis. Do something other than paint, sculpt or make anything? And call it 'art'. Why not?

I enjoyed the essays that weren't about Happenings. They don't interest me a great deal. I prefer Ray Johnson's idea of a Nothing event, which he started in '61. Something did happen, though, when Johnson finally appeared and 'emptied this box of spools down the staircase' at New York's AG Gallery, according to Ed Plunkett. It would have been better to do nothing, surely. 

I've been performing Nothing (a contradiction in terms, I know) all afternoon. Nobody witnessed it, though, so you'll have to take my word for it. Whilst it frustrates me not to have made Something, such days are inevitable. For now, I shall convince myself that in doing nothing (creatively) I was simply blurring the boundaries between art and life. In other words, imagining art to come, partly making it in my head, whilst actually just living. 

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