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Fluxus Pieces

by Ben Vautier

Ben Vautier’s performance at The Culture House was a potpourri of works by other Fluxus artists. All the titles of the works have been written on large pieces of paper hanging to the left of the stage. Whenever Vautier was ready to perform a new work, he tore off the paper announcing the previous work and the title of the upcoming work appeared.

During his one-hour performance, Ben Vautier managed to perform 28 works. From short and simple everyday actions like tying shoes (Orchestral piece for George Maciunas) and putting a vase with flowers on a piano (Piano Piece # 2 by George Brecht) performed by Ben Vautier to orchestrated performances with several performers like Afraid of Piano by Ben Vautier or Piano Piece #1 & #2 by George Maciunas.

Many works paid special attention to the sounding qualities of everyday objects e.g. candy wrappers (Sweets by Ann Noël) or dripping water (Drip Music by George Brecht). Also, alternative or experimental use of musical instruments characterized a number of the works. The piano in particular was the focus of many works (Piano Piece #1 - #2 by George Maciunas, Piano Concerto for Fluxus by Koering etc.)

The 28 events are listed below. Please note that the titles are based on Ben Vautier’s introduction to the events. Therefore some of the titles may be Vautier’s version of the original title and not entirely correct.

Counting Song by Emmett Williams
Ben Vautier and Ann Noël count the audience as a joint venture (there are 76 people).

Chair Music by La Monte Young
Ben Vautier instructs the audience to push their chairs across the floor to make a noise.

Piano Concerto for Fluxus by Koering
Ben Vautier and Eric Andersen both sit on the small piano stool fighting over the piano. The fight leaves them chasing each other around the piano. Eric Andersen wins the fight.

Piano Piece # 2 by George Brecht
Ben Vautier places a vase with flowers on the piano.

Piano Piece # 1 by George Brecht
Ben Vautier sits at the piano. The light is turned off for 20 seconds. When the light re-appears, Vautier has disappeared. The piano is all alone.

Wind Instruments Solo by Bob Watts
Ben Vautier enters the stage with a tuba under his arm, takes a bow and table tennis balls fall out of the tuba.

Trace for Orchestra by Robert Watts
Eric Andersen, Ben Vautier and Ann Noël are seated on chairs with music stands in front of them. The lights are turned off. The performers set fire to their scores, which light up in the darkness. The performance lasts longer than the one at Roskilde Hall.

Piano Piece by Nam June Paik
Vautier sets down a bucket of water next to the piano, sits down and starts playing the piano loudly. After 10 seconds he pours the bucket of water over his head and continues playing for a short while.

Drip Music by George Brecht
Eric Andersen and Ben Vautier wipe up the water with cloths. A microphone is placed close to the bucket and picks up the sound of dripping water from the cloths.

Afraid of Piano by Ben Vautier
Ben Vautier briefly touches the key of the piano and escapes the stage. He is chased by Eric Andersen, Bent Petersen, and Ann Noël. Vautier is captured by his pursuers and although he resists, he is dragged back to the stage and placed in front of the piano.

Concerto for Cheon by Ben Vautier
Vautier carries a tray with glasses and a bottle to the stage and puts it on the piano. He pours wine into the glasses. Eric Andersen, Geoffrey Hendricks, Ann Noël, Robert Watts and Emmett Williams join him for a drink.

Sweets by Ann Noël
Ann Noël throws caramels wrapped in paper to the audience. The audience is encouraged to make music with the wrappers.

Micro by Kuzugi
Vautier enters the stage with a copy of the newspaper Die Welt. He takes one page and wraps it around the microphone. The sound of paper crumbling can be heard through the speakers. He asks the audience to keep quiet and leaves the paper on the microphone, waiting for it to emit a sound as it unwraps.

Amplifier by Eric Andersen
Eric Andersen uses Ben Vautier as an amplifier. Andersen whispers words in Vautier’s ear, and he amplifies it by yelling it out loud. The words are as follows:

This piece is all about amplifying
It doesn’t mean anything
And it’s hardly entertaining
This piece is performed by Ben Vautier
And can only be performed by him

Incidental Music by George Brecht
Ben Vautier and Philip Corner build towers of wooden bricks on either side of the piano. Corner’s tower collapses first, Ben keeps on building for a long time, but eventually his tower collapses as well. As the tower falls over and hits the top of the piano, Corner hits the pedal of the piano, sustaining and enhancing the sound.

Violin Solo by Mieko Shiomi
Ben Vautier disappears from the stage. Moments later a violin suspended from the ceiling of the stage slowly descends, eventually touching the floor.

Violin Solo by George Brecht
Vautier polishes a violin and puts it in its case.

Thanks by Jackson Mac Low
Anne Tardos and Jackson Mac Low enter the stage. They exchange apples and say “Thanks”.

Newspaper Music by Alison Knowles
Ann Noël, Ben Vautier, Eric Andersen and Philip Corner line up on stage with newspapers and start reading aloud from the papers simultaneously. The papers are in different languages. The performers start raising their voices until they almost scream, then they gradually lower their voices again until they’re barely audible and finally disappear.

Zen for Head by Nam June Paik
While Philip Corner plays the piano, a long scroll of paper is unrolled behind him stretching down the stairs from the scene and through the aisle of the auditorium. Ben Vautier dips his head in paint and draws a long line on the paper with his hair.

Piano Piece #1 & #2 by George Maciunas
Philip Corner starts playing a tune on the piano. After a while Ben Vautier hammers a nail through a key on the piano and Ann Noël starts painting the piano white. Ben Vautier continues hammering nails through the white keys, gradually limiting the range of Corner’s playing. Eventually all the white keys have been nailed to the frame of the now white piano.

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Cream for Benjamin Patterson
A naked girl covered in whipped cream is carried on to the stage and placed on the piano, where she makes herself comfortable. Performers and enthusiastic members of the audience start licking the whipped cream off her body. She remains on the piano for the rest of the performance.

Disappearing Music for Face by Meiko Shiomi
Ben Vautier, Philip Corner, Eric Andersen, Emmett Williams, Ann Noël, and Geoffrey Hendricks enter the stage smiling. They stand smiling on stage looking at the audience. Slowly the smiles disappear and the performers end up looking miserable.

Constellation by Dick Higgins
Ben Vautier hands out instruments to the performers, Philip Corner, Eric Andersen, Jackson Mac Low, and Geoffrey Hendricks. Ben Vautier conducts the performance which consists of one simultaneous stroke of the instruments. The work is performed a couple of times, first instrumentally, then vocally and finally by the audience.

Composition # 2 by La Monte Young
The work instructs the performer to ‘Play a composition of your choice as best you can’. Ben Vautier announces that this work must be performed by someone from Poland. A (Polish) member of the audience enters the stage and sings a song in Polish.

Orchestra piece for George Maciunas
Ben Vautier enters the stage, unties his shoelaces and ties them again.

Mama by Guiseppe Cial
Ben Vautier continuously yells “Mama” with increasing desperation in his voice.

Bags by Benjamin Patterson
Lead by Andersen, everyone must put a paper bag over their heads. While holding on to a rope, Andersen will then lead them to the Alison Knowles performance.