It's spring cleaning time for me. It's not that I do this every spring but it happens to be spring this time that I'm doing it. So why not call it a spring clean? Most of this involves catching up with unread news stories and unopened emails. So today's blog entry features a couple of items discovered during said cleaning.
The first involves the sad news of Allan Kaprow's passing. Kaprow was a giant of 20th century art. He coined the term "happenings" for his early experiments in installation and performance art. He was not the only one doing happenings close to 50 years ago and that makes the term he coined even more significant. How many people get the opportunity to play Adam and name things and animals? See Genesis 2:19-20 if you have no idea what I'm talking about.
Kaprow was working with aspects of human communication as a performative component of his work way back in 1958. He explored network technologies in the context of performance in 1964, including satellites a couple of years later, and 2-way broadcasting before the end of the sixties. Again, he wasn't the only one doing this sort of thing but just the fact that he was doing it shows what an amazing visionary he was.
Embodying and fusing the main ideas in the work of Jackson Pollock and John Cage, Kaprow turned the idea of the event as art into something too many of us now take for granted. I believe this is exactly what he aspired to do. The fact that he called himself an "un-artist" shows that he saw the need to demystify the idea of the artist as the lone inspired genius.
I introduced my students to Kaprow's ideas last year during a performance workshop here in Scarborough. With his passing I realize that he needs to be on the curriculum for many other students in years to come. And not just art students, but all sort of students who want/need to understand how and why things like reality TV are possible now more than ever before.
Another unrelated item I found in my email inbox deals with the Da Vinci Code. I haven't read the book, nor do I plan to. I simply don't have time for fiction, especially the sensational type. However, I'm fascinated by the goings-on around this book and the forthcoming film based on it.
I am particularly intrigued by the information I found in a mass email sent out by my friend Fr Karm Debattista, the singing priest. Here's the text from that email:
For the first time in a long time, the Catholic Church is ahead of the power curve on a major media issue. The US Catholic bishops are producing a TV documentary, a website, a booklet, and other materials in advance of the release of the film The Da Vinci Code. Church folks are also participating in public forums and panels about this subject. I'm really proud that the Church is acting instead of reacting to public events and issues...and showing some media savvy, too. Check out this link. The Truth Be Told section is particularly useful. In the months ahead, you will be hearing and reading plenty about the film and the public discussion surrounding it. Even the Archdiocese of Detroit is on the ball. This link appears on the archdiocese's website. Here's a link to the home page.
I don't think we wrote this email. I have a feeling he's just forwarding something he himself received in a mass mail shot. Still, it's very interesting that this sort of thing in going on. So I thought I'd share it with my blog readers just in time for holy week and Easter.