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Making it Happen Again

Hawkins rising in the West! Paul Hawkins barely has time to check in to Los Angeles before appraising the career-fest overview of situationalist happener Allan Kaprow at MOCA

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by Paul Hawkins, for
originally published: March, 2008
Various artists and friends of Kaprow took his Scores, the instructive frames of reference and re-interpreted them into pieces of Happening Art.

Allan Kaprow was an Un-Artist/Non-Artist whose art spread across the terrain of paintings, assemblage and situationist Happenings, a term which became rooted in cultural folklore during the swingeing sixties right up to the present day.

He first signalled the sphere of interactivity within a designed Environment in 1959 in 18 Happenings in 6 Parts at the Rueben Gallery in NYC. Kaprow invited the public to undertake tasks within a specific space. Art was all about the engagement with ones physical body and the relationships sparked by the connections and reactions on a social, political and physical intercourse sited inside the Environment. The Buddhist principle of Impermanence is a central dialogue in the Happenings, and they first took place within public spaces before focusing later on the private stage. Participants would (inter)act out, through engaging with parameters set by Kaprow, known as Scores. He had no interest in institutional display and paid scant attention to their preservation. He truly wanted art to burst out of the cloying swamp of the past and shift into the here and now as "a computerised bank of cultural history and (as) an agency for action".

Kaprow later developed Activity Booklets; short instructive paragraphs accompanied by photographic aids for Happenings and then become more interested in the participative micro levels taking place intimately between one or several "Players" as Activities. kaprow, born in 1927 passed away in 2005.

Last night I attended the opening reception at at the Museum of Contemporary Art, in downtown LA of Allan Kaprow - Art As Life. Outside Left editor Lamont Paul was also in the area, enabling our own Life As Art Happening as The Meeting : Publisher/Editor meets Writer.Allan kaprow

Various artists and friends of Kaprow took his Scores, the instructive frames of reference and re-interpreted them into pieces of Happening Art. Multi-disciplinary forms, including film, writing, sound, canvas and Enviroments are utilised to re-engage with his leading artistic principals of doubt, impermanence and the environmental site. Environments are re-invented within the MOCA space; Apple Shrine (1960) by John Baldessari and Skylar Haskard, Push and Pull : A Furniture Comedy for Hans Hofmann (1963) by Barbara T. Smith and Allen Rupensberg reinvents Kaprow's Words (1962).

The Art As Life exhibition is interactive and participatory, and is an exceptional re-working of the artists in situ-guerrilla manifesto.

The exhibition runs through the next 3 months at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Paul Hawkins

Paul Hawkins has been interested in popular culture and music, protest and survival for as long as we can remember. He began writing about things, making music and other noise at an early age. Paul has interviewed musicians, writers, poets, protestors and artists.

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