Fluxus East

Fluxus Networks in Central Eastern Europe

Július Koller

1939, born in Piešťany, Slovakia
2007, died in Bratislava

From 1959 to 1965, Július Koller studied drawing and representation at the Academy of Fine Art in Bratislava. As a student, he painted cityscapes and spatial analyses, but soon he developed an interest in contemporary international trends, which were taking up the ideas of Dada and Marcel Duchamp: Nouveau Réalisme, happening, Fluxus and the Situationist International. From the mid 1960s, Koller developed a completely independent and coherent oeuvre, which he continued to develop with great consistently until his sudden death in August 2007.

In 1965, he published his manifesto Anti-Happening (System of Subjective Objectivity) and began to print text cards using a children’s printing set; as a rule, these voiced a negative attitude to art. For example, he printed non-invitations to non-exhibitions and telegram forms with umeNIE! (No art!). His anti-artistic attitude lent him an affinity to Fluxus. In 1970, Koller invited people to an exhibition in a gallery in which he and the visitors could play table tennis – with no alienation or particular humorous aspects (as is characteristic, for example, of the game of Flux Ping Pong developed by Maciunas). Koller understood the ping-pong game as a kinetic sculpture.

Since 1970, Koller also had his photograph taken on an annual basis as the U.F.O.-naut J.K., convinced that human beings are not only terrestrial, but also extraterrestrial beings. In these portraits he combined his face with various everyday objects – table tennis balls, books, plants, kitchen utensils – to lend his appearance a disturbing aspect. Because he required a gallery as an U.F.O.-naut, Koller founded the U.F.O.-Gallery Ganek in 1981; this was a fictive gallery located on an inaccessible mountain peak in the High Tatra, to serve as a platform for Koller’s fictive extraterrestrial culture.

Koller’s works have attracted international attention, particularly in the past decade, but they were also already represented in Klaus Groh’s book Aktuelle Kunst in Osteuropa in 1972.

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