10 months ago | SoTA Magazine
In a very particular bookstore in the center of Stockholm, Rönnells Antikvariat, I came across a barely visible poster about a Fluxus Festival in Uppsala. It was hard for me to imagine how a Fluxus Festival could be, who the artists were, who organized the event, why in Uppsala. Moved by curiosity, my partner and I decided to live the experience.
We took a train that would take us in an hour to Uppsala, a Sunday in December. There were hardly any people walking in the streets, a gray and cold day. We arrived at the Kosert and Kongress building, a fairly modern and sober construction.
The festival was already underway at the entrance. From the upper floor, a few drops of water fell into a metal pan on the lower floor. With some amplifiers you could hear the sound of water falling into the pot. The performance: Drip Music, by the composer and artist George Brecht, one of the most relevant figures of Fluxus in the 60s, played by Bengt and Klintberg.
Then we went to a small show room. It was full of people who looked at each other with the same bewildered face that we probably had. In the middle of the scene came the interpreter (Carl-Michael von Hausswolff) with a violin. The silent spectators waited for the note that would break the ice. But instead of a classical melody, we saw the performer slowly raising the violin in the middle of long breaths, until … bang! The instrument was completely destroyed. What a feeling of relief and well-being. After almost five minutes of tension and silence, finally the violin was turned into pieces in a liberating act. “One for violin” is the title of the piece by the artist Nam Juke Park, known for being one of the pioneers of video art.
Another performance that gave me this feeling of liberation, mixed with surprise and humor was “Piano piece No. 1” by Thomas Schmit. The interpreter Claes Tellvid, approached with a suitcase full of objects to a grand piano in the middle of the room. He arranged all the objects, one by one on the piano, paying close attention to the order and from time to time changing the arrangement. When the piano was full of all these objects, he opened the piano and … bang! again yes! bang! All the objects fell to the ground in perfect harmony.
To close the afternoon, the curator of the festival, Elena Wolay, played “Zyclus” by Tomas Schmit. Surrounded in a circle of empty bottles except one that was full of water. The performance consisted of pouring the water from one bottle to the other, until the water was completely finished. There was no hurry, we were all looking at the water being poured from a container to another, until there was no water at all. We were all contemplating such a banal moment, like the water being poured into the bottles, without haste, respecting time.
What a surprise to have found the Flux Fest in Sweden, in a place as remote as Uppsala. Without any pretension, this group of artists dressed in black and white with tie, allowed me to rediscover the Fluxus and live a liberating experience with humorous nuances.