HAPPENINGS by Michael-Ed. Kirby


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Amidst the asphalt of New York, Abstract Expressionism has flourished like the Green Bay tree. A few years ago it sprouted Pop art, now it's sprouting Op art. Between these came ""happenings,"" a very recherche growth with its specialized tenders, theorists and practitioners. Alan Kaprow calls happenings ""acts of acceptance of the phenomena of the outer world""; Claes Oldenburg considers it ""an art that a kid licks, after peeling away the wrapper...an art that flaps like a flag, or helps blow noses,"" an art that you can ""kiss, like a pet dog."" It is poetry with bow-wows, ballet without choreography, improvisations which nevertheless have stage directions, quasi-theatricals of simultaneity, immediacy, ""compartmented structure,"" i.e. no cause-and-effect plot. The illustrated anthology here, containing an appropriately hermetic introductory essay, along with various ""scripts,"" statements, and production-analyses, shows happenings to be, at least in print, holy bores over which one howls instead of yawning. They are agglomerates of fancy nonsense, parlor games for the alienated, banana peels for the godly. Happenings denounce traditional drama as predictable, unoriginal; yet what's more cliche-ridden than these bows to Dada, Surrealism, Artaud, Scwitters, Heisenberg, more vapid than the bursts of dummy activity, solemn chatter, and boing-boings? Even Cage, one of the founders, has recently expressed second thoughts. Perhaps Dine, Grooms, Kaprow, Oldenburg and Whitman should get a one-way ticket to the Deep South, to those ages-old tongue-speaking revival meets. There consciousness is really ""open""....

Pub Date: March 22nd, 1965
Publisher: Dutton