Activating Fluxus: In and Out of the Archive

Hölling, Hanna Barbara; Wielocha, Aga; Ellis, Josephine Lucy; Allgaier, Elke; Bovier, Lyonel; Gruhn, Elke; Montanari, Laura; Gazotti, Alessandro; Peterlini, Patrizio; von Ameluxen, Hubertus (5 May 2023). Activating Fluxus: In and Out of the Archive In: Two-Day Symposium and Fluxus Study Day at Foundation Bonotto. Molvena / online. 4-5 May 2022.

The activities of Fluxus (from the Latin word meaning ‘flow’) fluctuated across a dense international network of artists in the 1960s-70s. Indicating a state of mind rather than an art movement, Fluxus is inherently difficult to define – in this vein, the creative outputs of Fluxus reject any stable, material form. As something transitory, ephemeral or imagined, at times based on foodstuffs, organic debris, actions or three-dimensional notation, Fluxus artworks continue to complicate the concept of a timeless art that is supposedly created to last forever. The identities of Fluxus artworks thus cannot be attributed to any one physical manifestation but materialise processually through an open totality of indeterminate forms and relations. Caring for the legacy of Fluxus, therefore, not only requires accepting change as integral to the ongoing life of Fluxus artworks but also as a positive value: an invitation to creatively engage with the porosity of a given work’s boundaries. Thus while historical iterations of Fluxus works from the 60s-70s can be safeguarded as important documents of the recent past, our project aims to explore different modalities for engaging with the Fluxus spirit, beyond questions of physical preservation and towards the more imaginative horizon of activation. Activation, loosely conceived, suggests creative engagement with Fluxus works using methods such as reconstruction, adaptation and artistic reinterpretation of Fluxus forms. Through this proposition to activate – not just preserve – Fluxus, the notion of the archive sheds its traditional function as a historical repository that contextualises works of art. Instead, the archive is foregrounded as integral to the present construction of Fluxus works, comprising and comprised of artistic materials that can transform what the meaning of work is and might potentially be. This panel brings together eminent figures in the fields of archiving and collecting Fluxus materials to critically discuss activation as a mode of continuing and caring for the Fluxus legacy. Dick Higgins’ Intermedia Chart (1995) will be the starting point for our discussion. Drawn up during a conversation with Luigi Bonotto on January 19, 1995, Higgins’ chart is a graphic depiction of his ‘intermedia’ concept that describes artworks that fall in-between artistic media and trouble the boundaries between art and life. For almost three decades, the Fondazionne Bonotto has invited artists – including Julien Blaine, Philip Corner and Mieoko Shiomi – to adapt Higgins’ original chart according to their own understandings of intermedia. These creative interventions serve as an apt example of activation, in which change offers a rich modality for continuity and also allows for conceptual evolution. The following questions will be raised: What role does the archive play in the activation of Fluxus historical works? How might the archive be used to effect change, and not only stabilise, such works? What relations, amongst archivists, curators and conservators, are required to sustain the life of Fluxus? Who decides what constitutes the legacy of Fluxus works? Who is this legacy for? And fundamentally, what does it mean to activate Fluxus? Our exploration of the potentials and challenges for activating Fluxus will contribute to the design of an “Activation Toolkit” for Fluxus archives and collections. This toolkit will aim to inspire current and future stewards of Fluxus art to creatively engage with what it means to continue the Fluxus legacy. At the same time, the notion of activation offers an opportunity to expand established approaches for conserving changeable artworks that have emerged since the 1960s. WITH: Elke Allgaier, Lionel Bovier, Elke Gruhn, Laura Montanari and Alessandro Gazotti, Patrizio Peterlini, Hubertus von Amelunxen

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


Bern Academy of the Arts
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute Materiality in Art and Culture
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute Materiality in Art and Culture > Contemporary Art and Media


Hölling, Hanna Barbara0000-0002-3063-4405;
Wielocha, Aga0000-0001-8751-9574;
Ellis, Josephine Lucy;
Allgaier, Elke;
Bovier, Lyonel;
Gruhn, Elke;
Montanari, Laura;
Gazotti, Alessandro;
Peterlini, Patrizio and
von Ameluxen, Hubertus


M Music and Books on Music > M Music
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general


[7] Swiss National Science Foundation


[199] Activating Fluxus Official URL




Hanna Barbara Hölling

Date Deposited:

06 Sep 2023 11:34

Last Modified:

06 Sep 2023 11:34

Related URLs:

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Fluxus, intermedia, preservation, activation, event, archive, materiality, conservation


Actions (login required)

View Item View Item
Provide Feedback