Fluxus Concert

Description: 
Excerpt from Discussion between Ben The Great and Michel Giroud The Humble (1994)

Michel Giroud : Master, a very important question how did Fluxus come to Nice?

Ben : even though this is boring I consent to answer but do not interrupt me or else I will lose track of my ideas.
I've been living in Nice since 1949 and I've been part of the art called "avant-garde" since 1958. In 1962 I met Spoerri who liked my appropriation works and who invited me to participate in an exhibition in London at the Gallery One during the Festival of Misfits. On this occasion I met Georges Maciunas with whom I had two long discussions.
Maciunas mentioned Fluxus to me for the first time, and especially an artist called George Brecht who was living in New Jersey and who, Maciunas said, was not interested in glory, unlike Yves Klein, myself or European artists. That seemed incredible to me. I asked him what this artist was doing.
Maciunas told me: he winks, he drinks a glass of water and goes out closing the door behind him. Those are his works. He exhibits the details of life.
Because this seemed to me to be an extreme position in art, I was very impressed. Maciunas then explained to me that George Brecht had been a student of John Cage, who was a post Duchamp guru. For me this was the Cage revelation.
Fascinated by what Maciunas was telling me I asked him to come and visit me in Nice. I organized a Fluxus show in his honor.
In Nice my artistic life at the time had been closely interwoven with the theater. There were three or four theater companies and each one was trying to prove to the others that it was the most innovative. For Maciunas’ arrival in Nice in 1963 I decided to rent the municipal casino and to organize a very spectacular Fluxus concert. But when the director discovered that I had announced the dynamiting of the piano, he canceled the show and we had to rent a room at the Hotel Scribe in an emergency. In this small room we did a Fluxus show with twenty or so pieces, and the spectators included Lepage, Robert Erébo, Bozzi... But Maciunas wasn't satisfied. He felt the show had been too elitist and wanted us to play some Fluxus pieces in the street. So I took them to the café Le Provence and we did a dozen street pieces outside the café. Then, still in the context of this 1963 festival I swam across the Nice harbor and signed the flea market in Nice as an “open work of art”.
This festival started off a creative fever in Nice, and all those who had been contaminated by the Fluxus virus got together: Robert Erébo, Pontani, Serge III, Robert Bozzi, Dany Gobert, Annie. We created the Total Theater and rented the Artistique theater to produce a series of sensational shows. Among others I remember the show Reality in January 1964 and Something in March 1964. At the end of 1964 I decided to meet George Brecht personally and I left for New York. In New York I played Fluxus pieces in Maciunas’ loft with George Brecht , Dick Higgins and Alison Knowles and most of all I met Henry Flint who made a deep impression on me. Back in Nice, still with the Total Theater, I produced two new Fluxus concerts with new pieces from our New York repertory and I learned how to organize a show according to Maciunas’ principle that a Fluxus concert had to include a succession of 30 or so small pieces lasting from 1 to 2 minutes and leaving no place for boredom. Entertainment was a very important notion for him. In 1965 I went to Paris in a 2 CV to participate in the first Festival de Libre Expression (Free Expression Festival) at the American Center on the invitation of Jean-Jacques Lebel. I was entitled to two evenings. On one I played Publik and on the other I played a series of Fluxus pieces.
You have to remember that at the time in Paris they had never seen a real Fluxus concert, they were still doing visual poetry. In the meantime our Fluxus show was well broken in with a repertory of one hundred pieces. Serge III and I had been invited to give a concert in Prague in 1964. In 1966, thinking that life there would be easier and quieter, George Brecht and Filliou , along with Marianne, Marcelle and Dona Joe Jones, settled in Villefranche ten kilometers from Nice. Their space was called La Cédille qui Sourit (The Smiling Cedilla) (because of the shape of the Bay in Villefranche). They brought along with them another aspect of Fluxus that I was less familiar with. But that is a long story with highs and lows and I could talk for a hundred pages about Fluxus in Nice and in France, about the Fluxus concert that I did at La Cédille qui Sourit in 1966, about the bar-hopping exhibition we did at the gallery a, Le Litre de Var supérieur coûte 1F66 (A Quart of Vintage Var Wine Costs Fr.1.66) with Filliou and George Brecht for the arrival of Alison Knowles and Dick Higgins. .., le Hall des Remises en Question (The Soul-Searching Hall) in December 1967 with the whole team of the Cédille that was getting ready to leave Nice after« Banqueroute » (“ Bankruptcy ”), etc. If you want me to go on you have to shine my shoes.
this was the first Fluxus concert in Nice directed by George Maciunas. In fact at the time the word Fluxus wasn't used. The concert was to be held at the New Casino, but the rumor that Ben had the intention of dynamiting a piano on stage made the director change his mind. At the last minute Ben had to rent the Hotel Scribe. It was after this evening that Ben and his friends Robert Bozzi, Robert Erébo, Pontani, Dany Gobert and Annie decided to create the Total Theater, which they registered at City Hall a few days later. In the audience amongst other people were Jean-Marie Le Clézio, Daniel Biga and Serge Oldenbourg.
Ben, George Maciunas | photographie de la performance "Concert Fluxus", 1963 | Georges Maciunas, Robert Bozzi et Ben à la terrasse du Provence | © Ben - ADAGP, Paris 2012 | photographie : © Michel Moch | courtesy Alain Amiel
Ben, George Maciunas | photographie de la performance "Concert Fluxus", 1963 | Georges Maciunas, Robert Bozzi et Ben à la terrasse du Provence | © Ben - ADAGP, Paris 2012 | photographie : © Michel Moch | courtesy Alain Amiel
Ben, George Maciunas | photographie de la performance "Concert Fluxus", 1963 | Georges Maciunas, Robert Bozzi et Ben à la terrasse du Provence | © Ben - ADAGP, Paris 2012 | photographie : © Michel Moch | courtesy Ben
Ben, George Maciunas | photographie de la performance "Concert Fluxus", 1963 | Georges Maciunas, Robert Bozzi et Ben à la terrasse du Provence | © Ben - ADAGP, Paris 2012 | photographie : © Michel Moch | courtesy Ben
Creator: 
Ben
George Maciunas
Performer: 
Ben
George Maciunas
Robert Bozzi
Witness: 
Jean-Marie Le Clézio
Serge III
Daniel Biga
Associated performances: 
Bibliographical sources: 

in catalogue A propos de Nice, 1977, p. 17
in Chroniques niçoises I, 1945-1972, 1990, p. 268

Producer: 
Ben
George Maciunas
Robert Bozzi
Theoretical background: 
[the previous day, during the Rencontres poétiques de Coaraze, (Coaraze Poetry Meetings, editor’s note] Jacques Lepage invited Ben, Georges Maciunas, Robert Bozzi and Erebo for the first Fluxus concert in France, which ended up being a rehearsal for their evening the next day in Nice. Robert Lafont (an activist for Occitan independence) sang the Marseillaise to protest against the irrational and absurd side of this concert (and a bit of American cultural invasion …). The next day Lafont invoked poetic libations …
Occurence: 
Places: 
Starting date: 
07 26 1963
Topology: 
Background: 
lors du festival Fluxus de l'art total et du comportement
Adress: 
terrasse
Nice
France
Documents: 

Affiche annonçant l'événement d'ouverture du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total" le 27 juillet 1963 au Nouveau Casino

Type: 
Imprimé
Technique description référence: 
Affiche annonçant l'événement d'ouverture du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total" au Nouveau Casino le 27 juillet 1963. L'événement fut déplacé au dernier moment Hôtel Scribe | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco
ALOCCO
Affiche annonçant l'événement d'ouverture du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total" au Nouveau Casino le 27 juillet 1963. L'événement fut déplacé au dernier moment Hôtel Scribe | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco
Affiche annonçant l'événement d'ouverture du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total" au Nouveau Casino le 27 juillet 1963. L'événement fut déplacé au dernier moment Hôtel Scribe | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco

Programme tapuscrit du "Festival Fluxus de l'art total et du comportement", 1963

Type: 
Imprimé
Technique description référence: 
Programme tapuscrit du "Festival Fluxus de l'art total et du comportement", 1963 | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco
ALOCCO
Programme tapuscrit du "Festival Fluxus de l'art total et du comportement", 1963 | recto | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco
Programme tapuscrit du "Festival Fluxus de l'art total et du comportement", 1963 | recto | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco
Programme tapuscrit du "Festival Fluxus de l'art total et du comportement", 1963 | verso | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco
Programme tapuscrit du "Festival Fluxus de l'art total et du comportement", 1963 | verso | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco

Imprimé sur papier kraft annonçant l'événement d'ouverture du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total" le 27 juillet 1963

Type: 
Imprimé
Technique description référence: 
Imprimé sur papier kraft annonçant l'événement d'ouverture du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total" le 27 juillet 1963 | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco
Marcel Alocco
Imprimé sur papier kraft annonçant l'événement d'ouverture du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total" le 27 juillet 1963 | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco
Imprimé sur papier kraft annonçant l'événement d'ouverture du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total" le 27 juillet 1963 | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco

Programme tapuscrit de la soirée d'ouverture du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total" au Nouveau Casino le 27 juillet 1963.

Type: 
Imprimé
Technique description référence: 
Programme tapuscrit de la soirée d'ouverture du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total" au Nouveau Casino le 27 juillet 1963. L'événement fut déplacé au dernier moment Hôtel Scribe | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco
Marcel Alocco
Programme tapuscrit de la soirée d'ouverture du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total" au Nouveau Casino le 27 juillet 1963. L'événement fut déplacé au dernier moment Hôtel Scribe | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco
Programme tapuscrit de la soirée d'ouverture du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total" au Nouveau Casino le 27 juillet 1963. L'événement fut déplacé au dernier moment Hôtel Scribe | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco

Programme tapuscrit du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total", 1963

Type: 
Imprimé
Technique description référence: 
Programme tapuscrit du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total", 1963 | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco
Marcel Alocco
Programme tapuscrit du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total", 1963 | recto | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco
Programme tapuscrit du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total", 1963 | recto | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco
Programme tapuscrit du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total", 1963 | verso | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco
Programme tapuscrit du "Festival Mondial Fluxus et Art Total", 1963 | verso | © DR | courtesy Marcel Alocco