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Fluxus artists were no strangers to utopian thought. George Maciunas not only pioneered the creation of artistic cooperatives in New York City, but also devised madcap schemes to establish an autonomous Fluxus state and a Fluxus colony in the Caribbean. This talk explores the curious intersection of politics and aesthetics in Fluxus by drawing on the work of Jacques Rancière. In its invitation to experience life anew through sensitivity to the mundane and its circulation of abundant, inexpensive art objects, Fluxus was preoccupied with what Rancière calls the ‘invention of sensible forms and material structures for a life to come’. I suggest that its subversiveness lies not in avant-garde shock, but rather in its radical insistence that art is equally available to all. Fluxus tests the margins of the aesthetic––revealing that such limits are often bound up with historical distributions of capacity and incapacity, agency and freedom, the thinkable and unthinkable.

Speaker's Bio: Ross Cole

Ross Cole is author of The Folk: Music, Modernity, and the Political Imagination (University of California Press, 2021), which won the Society for Ethnomusicology's Bruno Nettl Prize. He teaches at the University of Leeds.

At this event

Sophie Redfern

Lecturer in Music

Gavin Williams

Lecturer in Music

Event details

Saint Davids Room
Strand Campus
Strand, London, WC2R 2LS

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