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Jon Lockwood, Peace News

Kaprow, Allan

Allan Kaprow (1927–2006) was an American performance artist and teacher whose “Happenings” helped shape the New York performance art scene in the 1950s and ’60s, and were hugely influential on later artists. Happenings are characterized by lack of formal structure and defiance of the traditional performer/audience relationship; everyone is an audience member and a performer simultaneously. Here are some typical examples of the more than 200 Happenings: Participants took Polaroids of each other and left them in the performance space; a giant room made of ice gradually melted from visitors’ body heat; fife and drum music played in a high school gym while people kicked balls around; visitors rearranged the furniture in a gallery at the New York Museum of Modern Art; participants tied greenhouse-grown leaves to the bare branches of trees. “Objects of every sort are materials for the new art,” Kaprow wrote. “Paint, food, chairs, electric and neon lights, smoke, water, old socks, a dog, movies, a thousand other things which will be discovered by the present generation of artists…”

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