‘Allan Kaprow, An invention of Allan Kaprow for the moment’
Design and concept of this book in close collaboration with Philippe Pirotte, Kunsthalle Bern and Nina Oeghoede.
The American Allan Kaprow (1927-2006) is considered to be the founding father of the happening and one of the most progressive artists of the 20th century. He is an important role model for a younger generation of artists that is especially concerned with happenings and performance art. In 1959, with his work “18 happenings in 6 parts”, Kaprow was the first artist to complete the transition to the happening as a performative art form that did not require any artificial surroundings or the context of a museum anymore, but was instead rooted in everyday life. Active participation was called for instead of passive consumption. The participants acted on the basis of scores – instructions written by Karpow at times poetically and at other times in a detailed descriptive style.
“people stand on bridges, on street corners, watch cars pass. after two hundred red ones, they leave.” Excerpt from the score to “self-service” (1966). The comprehensive selection of works, encompassing more than five decades of art history, is comprised of paintings, collages and assemblages that illustrate Kaprow’s evolution from two-dimensionality into three-dimensional space, as well as scores, documents such as photographs and videos, and “re-inventions” – remakes of a variety of older works. Thus, the exhibit not only offers the unique chance to experience Allan Kaprow’s happenings in a new light, but also to get acquainted with the background of his multifaceted oeuvre. The exhibition is an active archive which permits an intensive analysis of Kaprow’s work, “museum as mediation”, and at the same time an “agency for action” that offers the possibility of experiencing Kaprow’s happenings and environments in new versions.
After visiting the Haus der Kunst in Munich and the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the extraordinary exhibition, curated by Eva Meyer-Hermann and Stephanie Rosenthal, took place at the Kunsthalle Bern and proceeded to the Museum Villa Croce in Genoa and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
Transitoriness is an essential property of happenings. For this reason, the scores, photographs, film recordings and descriptions of participants are among the few traces left of Kaprow’s works today. However, it is one of the artist’s concerns that his work keep existing not as pure documentation, but that it be lived and experienced in new versions. The emphasis of the show will thus rest on the interactive aspect of Kaprow’s oeuvre: happenings and so-called environments will be realized anew in the context of the exhibition. The basis for this will be the scores, while the smaller happenings could also be performed independently by individuals or small groups. All actions will be documented and integrated into the presentation as photographs, video recordings and reports.
Allan Kaprow, 'An invention of Allan Kaprow for the moment' with texts by Philippe Pirotte, Heinrich Sachs, Virginie Bobin, Jullia Kläring, Sarah Zürcher.
21 x 27 cm, engl., 2009, CHF. 42.-. orders via http://www.kaprow.org or Kunsthalle Bern.