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Sometime back in the 1960s, Fluxus artist George Brecht created a performance that consisted of simply turning a light on and then turning it off. Then turning it on again, then turning it off again. Techniquewise, Brecht’s performance is no chef d’oeuvre; my three-year-old cousin gave the exact same performance last Thanksgiving. But Fluxus artists don’t want you to be impressed by their technique–they want you to share their fascination with life itself: when was the last time you turned on a light and marveled at how it comes to be that the room is suddenly illuminated? Fluxus was a semiobscure avant-garde movement inspired by the works of Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, and early dadaists; its aims–to deflate the ego that surrounds art and to rebel against its commodification–have made it a source of inspiration for scores of contemporary artists. Fluxus practitioners have created a multitude of sculptures, readymades, and drawings, many of which have recently been purchased for a tidy sum of money–in exact opposition to the spirit of their creation. But because they’re ephemeral, Fluxus performances escape that fate. Fluxus Vivus, two evenings of performances at the Arts Club of Chicago, is perhaps the most purely Fluxus part of the three-month-long Fluxus Festival Chicago. Audience members will be seated cabaret style and offered a menu of titled works by performers Eric Anderson, Alison Knowles, Larry Miller, Ben Patterson, and Ben Vautier. Guests then choose what they want to see, and the selected works are performed at individual tables. In future weeks the Arts Club will offer poetry readings, concerts, and a Lewd Food Fluxus Banquet, all with the hope of easing the boundary between life and art. The Arts Club of Chicago, 109 E. Ontario, 787-3997. November 4 and 5: Thursday-Friday, 7 PM. $20 (includes food and refreshments); paid advance reservations required.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jens Bode.