AS IT HAPPENS

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HAPPENING
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
A happening is a performance, event or situation meant to be considered art, usually as performance art. Happenings take place anywhere, and are often multi-disciplinary, with a nonlinear narrative and the active participation of the audience. Key elements of happenings are planned, but artists sometimes retain room for improvisation. This new media art aspect to happenings eliminates the boundary between the artwork and its viewer. Henceforth, the interactions between the audience and the artwork makes the audience, in a sense, part of the art.

Happenings were all the rage when I was at art college in the late sixties and early seventies.

Yoko Ono presented one whilst I was there. She walked onto stage with a large black bag, climbed into it and proceeded to take off her clothes and carefully place them outside the bag. She retrieved her clothes and then stepped out of the bag fully dressed and asked if there were any questions. Someone asked how often she washed her hair at which point she lost it and stormed off muttering something about “not taking her seriously”. I’ve always thought that if she had just answered the question things might have progressed in a way she would have approved of.

Students and tutors all got involved in this rather self conscious and precious activity.

There was one day when several students and members of staff ran round Goldsmiths at a break neck speed, dressed as doctors using a gurney as a taxi taking students to their lectures.

Even I joined in one day.

I sat on a lavatory for several hours in the refectory (canteen). Possibly the first flash ‘flash’. The irony was that every time I actually needed the loo I had to disappear for a few minutes. I know, I know … lack of commitment.

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