Fluxus East

Fluxus Networks in Central Eastern Europe

Alison Knowles

1933, born in New York, USA
Lives in New York

Alison Knowles studied painting under Joseph Albers at the Pratt Institute New York. Together with Dick Higgins and John Cage, she was a member of the New York Mycological Society, an association of mushroom collectors. At this time, she cultivated a close exchange with John Cage. In 1968, Knowles designed and printed the last edition by Marcel Duchamp. From 1970 to 1972, she taught at the California Institute of the Arts. She spent creative periods working in Poland, Italy, Japan and Austria, but also in Germany. Knowles received a fellowship from the Berlin Artists’ Programme of the DAAD in 1984.

Knowles was one of the very first Fluxus artists. In 1962, she travelled with Dick Higgins – her husband since 1960 – to the first Fluxus Festival organised in the Museum of Wiesbaden. Alison Knowles was the author of classic Fluxus pieces from this period such as the Nivea Cream Piece or Proposition, including the score: Make a salad. At this time, Knowles was also already working with the beans – in 1963, she produced her Bean Rolls – that accompany her work, both objects and actions, in every conceivable type, size and form. As well as small object editions, Knowles produced book objects – for example the accessible Big Book shown at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1967 – and Loose Page Sculptures. Sound also plays an important part in her work, which includes sound installations such as Bean Garden (1971) and radio pieces for the Studio Akustische Kunst at WDR.

Knowles was a guest at numerous exhibitions and performances in Central Europe. In 1966, for example, she appeared together with Higgins, Vautier and Knížák at the Fluxus Festival in Prague; in 1978 she exercised considerable influence on the developing Performance Art scene in Poland with her appearance at the Warsaw Performance Festival I AM.

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