Flux Lab, UWE, Bristol, August 2014
Early in August I spent a wonderful week in Bristol as a participant at Flux Lab in an exploration of Fluxus history and contemporary practice.
The course was organised by Sarah Bodman at the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England and led by Jeff Rathermel the Executive Director at Minnesota Center for Book Arts.
Over the course of the week we explored the possibilities of cheap recycled materials, simple publication production and exercises to generate content, multiples, ready-mades, collaborative editions and performance scores. Activities were underpinned through a history of Fluxus and surveying contemporary artists working in the spirit of Fluxus.
It was useful for me to reconsider my own work, and that of Pineapple Falls, existing in a kind of spirit of Fluxus. My skills benefitted from further exploration into traditional book and box making with Jeff as I hadn’t attended classes since Mary Bartlett’s in 2007 at Dartington Craft Education; a short course organised by our tutors on the MA in Visual Performance at Dartington College of Arts. Since then I had been hacking what I’d learned from Mary and will no doubt do the same with skills learned from Jeff.
The beautiful box we made under Jeff’s instruction provided us with individual assembly containers for a Happening of exchanges with Flux gifts made through the week - text pieces, scores, multiples, ready mades and poems. We also collaborated on an edition of 20 double pamphlets ‘Duchamp is a Jerk’ containing collage, scores, stickers, lino & letterpress prints, rubber stampings, string prints, mad-libs, a hacked Fluxus manifesto, golden embossing and hand-stamped playing cards. It was such a clever way that Jeff facilitated the generation of content of the book through a carousel of practical activities. Here, I had a go at new things I felt I might want to explore in the future. The edition was assembled in a binding bee on the last day - a copy is held by CFPR at UWE with an additional copy being sent to artist Picasso Gaglione who had loaned rubber stamps for the edition.
I really should also be telling you that I’ve spent time with another typewriter, learned loads of stuff about glue, binding materials, tools, paper bag/envelope stuff, stationery tips, made homemade stickers, added to a critical bibliography, not to mention the repetitive scoffing of cakes and cans of rhubarb pop - all lovely!
An amazing week which has allowed me new starting points for making and sharing work and has helped make sense of my desire to ‘bag up’ everything - I want to apply skills and knowledge developed to expanding multiples and simple publications and to explore how Pineapple Falls operates in the spirit of Fluxus.
New friends have been made who I’m looking forward to working with again. Plus, I have two new nom de plumes - Elizabeth Pitkin and Dward who are alive and well and making multiples and poems for Pineapple Falls in South Devon.
A brilliant course - could not recommend enough. Jeff is back at UWE next year with another!