It Was 40 Years Ago Today

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A research project devoted to uncovering and archiving the history of Performance Art in Wales.

Prosiect ymchwil i ddadorchuddio ac archifo hanes Celf Perfformio yng Nghymru.

Winner of the David Bradby TaPRA Award for Research in International Theatre and Performance 2011.

If you have any information on performance in Wales that could be of use to the project, please get in touch!

Whether you are an artist who has made performance work in Wales, or an audience member who once witnessed a performance (voluntarily or involuntarily!), we would be pleased to hear from you.
Any material will be of interest - from actual pieces of documentation to vague memories of events caught out of the corner of one's eye.
mail@performance-wales.org

Cysylltwch â ni os oes gennych unrhyw wybodaeth am berfformio yng Nghymru a allai fod o ddefnydd i'r prosiect!

Efallai eich bod yn artist sydd wedi gwneud gwaith perfformio yng Nghymru, neu'n aelod o gynulleidfa a welodd berfformiad unwaith (o'ch gwirfodd neu'n anwirfoddol!). Pwy bynnag ydych chi, hoffem glywed gennych.
Bydd unrhyw ddeunydd o ddiddordeb - o ddogfennau gwreiddiol i atgofion amwys am ddigwyddiadau a welwyd o gornel y llygad.
Mae'r manylion cyswllt wedi'u rhestru dan 'Cyswllt' yma, neu gallwch anfon e-bost i'r cyfeiriad hwn: mail@performance-wales.org

Project Director Cyfarwyddwr Prosiect: Heike Roms
Dept Theatre, Film and Television Studies, Aberystwyth University
Adran Astudiaethau Theatr, Ffilm a Theledu Prifysgol

Contact: Professor Heike Roms
Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies
Adran Astudiaethau Theatr, Ffilm a Theledu Prifysgol
Aberystwyth University
Adeilad Parry-Williams Building
Aberystwyth SY23 3AJ,
UK phone ffon: (+44) 1970 - 621911 (direct uniongyrchol) mail@performance-wales.org

Funded by Wedi ei drawsgronni gan:
ARTS AND HUMANITIES RESEARCH COUNCIL (AHRC) (2009-2011)
(CYNGOR YMCHWIL Y CELFYDDYDAU A’R DYNIAETHAU) (2009-2011)
ARTS COUNCIL OF WALES (ACW) (2006-2008)
CYNGOR CELFYDDYDAU CYMRU (CCC) (2006-2008)
SIR DAVID HUGHES PARRY AWARD 2006, 2008
ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY RESEARCH FUND (2007)

AHRC logo and link to website

Aberystwyth University Logo and link to website

Arts Council Wales logo and link to website

National Lottery Logo

Copyright © 2011 All Rights Reserved
Hawlfraint © 2011 Cedwir pob hawl

What's Welsh for Performance? Beth yw 'performance' yn Gymraeg?

Fluxus in / yn Aberystwyth 1968

            

FLUXCONCERT BY AND FOR FLUXUS, 28 November 1968, 8pm, Parish Hall, Aberystwyth

:restaging: Fluxus 1968-2008 :oral history

[for information on the restaging or for documentation please click links above]

The Fluxus Concert was a real success... Slides of cowboy drawings. We pull crackers, burst bags, howl. Somebody chases his mate around the parish hall to hit him. Flux-Pin-Up No. 1 showers down. It is a picture of Brian. ...People howl and throw streamers, and stick coloured papers on their faces, and somehow behind the light Brian throws us another set of instructions. Caution, Art Corrupts.
(John Hall, A State of Flux - John Hall at the Aberystwyth Festival, The Guardian 30 Tachwedd 1968)


From the 27th to the 29th November 1968, artist Brian Lane came to Aberystwyth with his collaborators, the First Dream Machine, to organize a 3-day Fluxus event. He had been invited by the annual Aberystwyth Arts Festival, a committee that was made up of students from University College Aberystwyth (including Bob Marsland, John Osborne and Steve Mills). The participatory and imaginative nature of Fluxus appealed to the organisers who, as they stated in their invitation to Lane, were looking to "reach a wide enough audience" and were "attempting to revitalize the Festival by pushing the idea of Art as Fun, Art as something to be enjoyed".

In response, Brian Lane devised an ambitious programme for Aberystwyth: a 12 hour concert of electronic music (which featured pieces by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Henry and Adrian Nutbeem), one of the first Fluxusclinics in the country, an international graphics exhibition and a session of Total Theatre. At the heart of the festival was a Flux Concert, featuring performances of now classic Fluxus scores by artists such as George Maciunas, Ben Vautier, George Brecht and Chieko Shiomi. Adrian Glew, curator at the Tate in charge of the Brian Lane Archive, calls the event "seminal", as it "entered the contemporaneous Fluxus canon and the subsequent history of Fluxus in the UK". (Glew 2007).

O 27 i 29 Tachwedd 1968, roedd yr artist Brian Lane yn Aberystwyth gyda'i gydweithwyr, sef y First Dream Machine, i drefnu digwyddiad tridiau Fluxus. Roedd wedi'i wahodd gan Wyl Flynyddol y Celfyddydau yn Aberystwyth, sef pwyllgor o fyfyrwyr Coleg Prifysgol Aberystwyth (a oedd yn cynnwys Bob Marsland, John Osborne a Steve Mills). Roedd natur gyfranogol a llawn dychymyg Fluxus yn apelio at y trefnwyr a oedd, yn ôl y gwahoddiad, yn awyddus "i gyrraedd cynulleidfa eang"ac yn "ceisio rhoi hwb o'r newydd i'r Wyl drwy hyrwyddo'r syniad mai rhywbeth i'w fwynhau yw Celf".

Ymatebodd Brian Lane drwy lunio rhaglen uchelgeisiol i Aberystwyth: cyngerdd 12 awr o gerddoriaeth electronig (gan gynnwys darnau gan Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Henry a Adrian Nutbeem), un o'r Fluxusclinics cyntaf ym Mhrydain, arddangosfa o waith graffig rhyngwladol a sesiwn Total Theatre. Roedd Flux Concert yn ganolbwynt i'r Wyl, gyda pherfformiadau o'r darnau Fluxus, sydd yn glasuron erbyn hyn, gan George Maciunas, Ben Vautier, George Brecht a Chieko Shiomi. Yn ôl Adrian Glew, curadur yn y Tate sy'n gyfrifol am Archif gwaith Brian Lane, roedd y digwyddiad yn hynod bwysig gan ei fod yn dod yn rhan o ganon cyfoes Fluxus a hanes Fluxus yng ngwledydd Prydain ers hynny (Glew 2007).

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They say that if you can remember the 60s you weren't there… but we are hoping to prove this wrong. If you have any memories of this 3-day event (or of the Aberystwyth Arts Festival in general), or know somebody who does, please get in touch! Any material will be of interest ... even vague memories of events caught out of the corner of your eye.

Contact: mail@performance-wales.org

Maen nhw'n dweud os ydych chi'n cofio'r 60au nad oeddech chi yno … ond gobeithiwn y gallem brofi bod hynny'n anghywir.
Os oes gennych unrhyw atgofion am y digwyddiad tridiau hwnnw (neu am Wyl Celfyddydau Aberystwyth yn gyffredinol), neu'n adnabod rhywun sy'n ei gofio, byddwn ni'n falch iawn o glywed gennych chi! Byddai unrhyw ddeunydd o ddiddordeb ... hyd yn oed brith cofion am ddigwyddiadau y cawsoch gip arnynt drwy gil eich llygaid.

Cysylltwch â mail@performance-wales.org

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REVIEW

[...] This was to have been a series of “happenings,” unleashed by The First Dream Machine, a disarmingly normal combo headed by Brian Lane, charismatic ex-printer’s proof-reader, and propped by an attractively gaunt, girl-child called Rainbow Day, who, Brian casually announced, exists simply to interpret his ideas, and who was nothing before he built her early this year. Well, Brian’s plans for Aberystwyth included exploding beach poetry, writ stanzas of phosphorous and magnesium, the first Fluxclinic in the country, and an evening of cool-as-hell experimental films. He also wanted to set the sea on fire. But somebody got wind of the films, which were not exactly Bethel Sunday school material [...]. And so the films were off.

On the subjet of fire poetry, the town council had reservations. There was a suggestion that a seafront landlord might fire an unwanted property and claim insurance on the ground that the damage was done by a stray incendiary couplet. But permission to use the beach was granted, with a proviso that the organisers took out an insurance indemnity for the entire sea front, or that the recital should be executed in non-combustible materials. But, as Brian said, noncombustible fire poetry is not calculated to pull in the multitudes. So the fire poetry was off.
This left the First Dream Machine with a 12-hour concert of electronic music, the first Fluxclinic, a session of total theatre, a session of minimal theatre, a session of totally minimal totally destructive theatre, and a rapidly run-up Flux Concert. [...]

The marathon concert ran most of its course, and offered works by Stockhausen, Pierre Henry, and Adrian Nutbeem, to name but a few. There was a live performance of ‘The Book of the Silent Rainbow”, a suite of seven phonic poems and their combinations for four voices and three tape-recorders with the silent voice of O. For those who don’t know this work, it helps to realise that the script originates from the measurements taken horizontally and vertically from the seven pixieglass poems designed by Gian Roberto Comini, to name but another. Which was naming one too many for the assembled students of Aber, many of whom had missed the overture in favour of a couple of bottles of Newcastle Brown.

There developed an ad-libbed chorus of whistles, catcalls, and belches, not to mention a general rudeness, and several of the young gentlemen of Aber pocketed exibits from Brian’s internationally graphic poetry exhibition, and attempted to turn down the volume of the performance. Whereupon Brian called a halt, although a balloon event for two thirds of a rainbow had been prepared, and had to go begging. The lads who didn’t like the music said they had been conned, and marched off to the refrain of the Ballad of Kerriemuir. Brian folded his arms behind his head and lay on the stage. “I’ve got this idea for a non-audience happening,” he mused. “So peaceful. So still.”
The next day, Brian, Rainbow Day, and the entire Machine were thinking about going home. Somebody was organising a petition saying they were a con, and an imperious Telewele producer had the performers all cooperating while he gave a brief commentary on the Fluxusclinic. In Welsh. When the film was in the can, he explained with a cheery Welsh smile that he had just told his bilingual audience that the performance was more or less a con. Somebody told him that they thought he was a con, too. In English. Brian clapped his hand to his forehead at the thought of nonaudience events, and I volunteered to be the first person to be Fluxusclinicked, just to cheer them up.

Actually, the Fluxclinic is very much like a Nuffield maths course, minus any educational end product. I found the volume of my mouth by filling it with water and emptying into a measuring glass - 95c.c. I blew out a candle at 5 1/2 feet, and when I couldn’t tell the Flux Tester what colour ball she had in her pocket, she entered on my chart: X-ray vision - none. There’s no point in being fluxed, apart from having a giggle with the bird who is fluking you.’
The Flux Concert was a real success. At one point Brian, who must have proof-read “Trilby” at some time, stood before three Dream Mechanics, including his Rainbow Day, and raised both hands like the Messiah. The girls smiled according to the height at which he held his hands. He lowered them and they stopped, like an orchestra of laughs. Later he Svengalied the lot of us, standing on a balcony with a floodlight playing in our faces where we were enclosed by screens. He showered down leaflets of instructions. War Game. “The pectures you are about to see are silent. You have been provided with materials to make a sound track. Fluxus bids you fight well. God is on your side.”

Slides of cowboy drawings. We pull crackers, burst bags, howl. Somebody chases his mate around the parish hall to hit him. Flux-Pin-Up No. 1 showers down. It is a picture of Brian. Howls from the mob. Another Flux-Pin-Up, and a third. It is the picture of a half-rotten war corpse. People howl and throw streamers, and stick coloured papers on their faces, and somehow behind the light Brian throws us another set of instructions: Caution, Art Corrupts. And all supported by the Welsh Arts Council.

[John Hall, ‘A State of Flux’, The Guardian, 30 November 1968]

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Image / Llun1: Poster Aberystwyth Arts Festival, design: Keith Hill. Image / Llun2: Jonathan Smith at the Fluxconcert Aberystwyth 1968. Courtesy of Jonathan Smith. Image/ Llun3: design: Brian Lane.