The Eve of Fluxus: Review by Hammond Guthrie

Eve of Fluxus by Billie MaciunasThe Eve of Fluxus: A Fluxmemoir by Billie Maciunas
Arbiter Press, Orlando, Florida  ISBN 978-0-615-35216-9

Fluxus is a name taken from a Latin word meaning "to flow"— often described as "intermedia," a term coined by Fluxus artist Dick Higgins in 1966. Fluxus as an artistic group was named and organized by George Maciunas, a Lithuanian-born American artist and founding member of Fluxus, an international community of artists, architects, composers, and designers - among them, George Brecht and Nam June Paik, Dick Higgins, Wolf Vostell, La Monte Young, Jonas Mekas, and Yoko Ono. Fluxus is an attitude ~ not a movement or a style.

"Fluxus is a Latin word George Maciunas dug up. I never studied Latin. If it hadn't been for Maciunas nobody might have ever called it anything. We would all have gone our own ways, like the man crossing his street with his umbrella, and a woman walking a dog in another direction. We would have gone our own ways and done our own things: the only reference point for any of this bunch of people who liked each other's works, and each other, more or less, was Maciunas. So Fluxus, as far as I'm concerned, is Maciunas."  --George Brecht

Three months before his death, George Maciunas married his friend and companion, the poet Billie Hutching in a "Fluxwedding" held in a friend's loft in SoHo, February 25, 1978. Among the participants were artists Alison Knowles, La Monte Young, Jackson MacLow, and Louise Bourgeois.

Life as therapeutic fetish, the marriage of Billie and George was equal to the concept of Fluxus, and their union became the essence of the 'Fluxus perspective' ~ an exchange of deep-rooted intentions along with their clothing and characters, as bride and groom both wore white wedding dresses for the ceremony. Gender role playing and more, at George's request, would continue in private. George in drag acting as Severin von Kusiemski tied to the nuptial bed by Billie, his Wanda von Dunajew. "I'll beat you again," I say, "then I'll let you go." "You're wonderful," he breathes as she leaves.

With this first publication of The Eve of Fluxus, Billie Maciunas writes/sings of their brief yet intensely personal relationship in an expressive voice not unlike the late diarist Anais Nin. Perpetually ill, George developed cancer of the pancreas and liver in 1977, and their all too brief time together was to a large extent dominated by George's painful illness and fear of abandonment. In the most evocative passages Billie describes her attempts to help George with his significant discomforts by employing relaxing "immobilization" techniques, while at the same time working to preserve his place in the greater pantheon of Art.

George Maciunas died on May 9, 1978, and astride her significant grief following George's death, Billie was almost immediately confronted by adversaries over how to distribute her husband's estate, which included the artist's significant Fluxus archive.

Billie Maciunas' journey is indeed a road less traveled, yet one I encourage you to take in this intriguing, well composed, and deeply moving memoir.    © 2010 Hammond Guthrie

My heart has outgrown, like magic,
the clamor of painful things...
Beneath the burnt heather are newborn roses...
I've put an end to my tears.
—from the poem: "Desert In Flower" © Billie Maciunas

Buy the Book:
Mail orders for "The Eve of Fluxus" (signed by the author):
Billie J. Maciunas
10152 Berry Field Ct.
Orlando, FL 32821
The Eve of Fluxus (web site)

Hammond Guthrie is the author of "AsEverWas..Memoirs of a Beat Survivor" and editor of The 3rd Page Journal of Ongrowing Natures.

© 2010 Hammond Guthrie