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.


  1. Posted March 4, 2013 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    No happenings at the University of Alaska. We were all too busy trying to survive.

    I’m not sure exactly what was supposed to be taken seriously about Ms. Ono’s bit of performance art…. I took my clothes off all the time….

    daddyp replied:

    I suspect it was about shedding material things, gaining a sense of freedom, feeling vulnerable etc etc. Either that or she had a free afternoon and wanted a laugh.

  2. Posted March 5, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Unless you realise that the lavatory in question was a ‘found object’ placed halfway up the open staircase in the middle of the refectory the story loses a bit of punch; trousers were lowered but the shirt was a long one. 😉

    penfold replied:

    Thanks for the clarification Ma. The way Dad tells the tale it sounds like he was skiving in the canteen loos. Again…

    daddyp replied:

    It was art I tell you! ART!!!!!

  3. Posted March 6, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Was is a C True bag?

    daddyp replied:

    Do they make black bags? If they do, it might have been I suppose but you couldn’t see her face.

  4. Posted March 6, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    At our age, we still get excited when there’s a “happening” on a lavatory…

    Lo,TG replied:

    DF – Plenty of beans and oat bran…

    LinkyLove replied:

    Arty Farty

    daddyp replied:

    My secret super power … well not so secret I suppose.

  5. daddyp
    Posted March 6, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    I do believe we’ve reached a new low here. BTW, thank you for using the word lavatory and not toilet.

  6. Posted March 9, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    Going to the loo is a happening for one nephew who’s 14…he reads the cartoons, does sudoku, does the crossword…he’s almost late for school every day.

    daddyp replied:

    A boy who can multitask!!!?!

    guyana gyal replied:

    Not too well, obviously, as he’s almost late for school everyday.

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