The Burchfield Penney's June 1 Fluxus Gala as Retold by Don Metz

Friday, June 8, 2012

Flux Tony

Last Friday, June 1st, we welcomed back Tony Bannon to the Burchfield Penney with a gala event. Bannon’s friends—old and new—were introduced to a most unusual reception of Fluxus events. Flux Tony, as I came to call it, was a series of fluxus events that began as guests arrived and continued throughout the evening.

Supporters were greeted at the door paparazzi style, with flashing cameras and autograph seekers stirred on by Bannon himself, calling to guests by name as if appearing at a Hollywood celebrity event. As they were whisked through the crowd, patrons were escorted to a photoshoot and encouraged to wear various kitsch props provided by the Burchfield Penney. Posing in wigs, tiaras, hats and strange glasses, the audience quickly understood that this was not to be the same old same old gala.

As they ascended up the Grand Staircase, In C, the classic minimalist work by Terry Riley, rang through the building, and guests were forced to make their way through Untitled Flux 1 by John Toth. (In C will be performed on July 13, 2012 on the Louise Terrace in a collaboration with Squeaky Wheel, part of M&T Second Fridays at the Burchfield Penney. The performance will be led by legendary percussionist Jan Williams and be accompanied by video work by Andrew Deutsch, Scott Puccio, Vincenzo Mistretta and Pat Cain.) Toth’s wave of white fabric enveloped the staircase and was carpeted with light by projectors and skylights. John Toth will be at the Burchfield Penney this fall installing a new work for our Useum that will stretch out of the Useum and into the Burchfield Penney’s Grand Foyer.

As guests reached their destination in the Reception Area where cocktails and dinner were served, members of Bufffluxus (Michael Basinski, Michael Colquhoun and Alice Baily ) greeted them with Fluxus events that included:

Smile Game by Milan Knizak
Say hello to every member of the audience.
If they replay with a smile, you get a point.
The one with the most points wins.

Shoes of Your Choice by Alison Knowles
A member of the audience is invited to describe
pair of shoes, the one’s she is wearing
or another pair. He is encouraged to tell
when he got them, the size, the color etc.

Choice 18 by Robert Bozzi
Performers use mirrors to show the audience to itself.

Counting Songs by Emmett Williams
Audience is counted by various means –
Possible: Performers give a small gift, cough drop, tooth pick,
painting by Charles Burchfield, cookie,
to members of the audience when they
are counted.

Variation: count various objects about the room, e.g.
lights, bottles of beer, rings on fingers, glasses
(on faces and otherwise)

String Quartet by George Brecht
shaking hands

While a few seemed confused as to what Bufffluxus folks were doing there in the first place, most were enjoying the bizarreness of it all. As patrons climbed to their second or third drink, an air-raid siren blasted through the audience and Bufffluxus poured into:

Audience No. 4 (modified) by Ben Vautier
After the audience is seated,
performers proceed to clean the performance
space with vacuum cleaners.

In this modified version the audience was herded to their seats by vacuum cleaners shouting, “You Must Be Seated. This is a Contaminated Area.” The audience made their way to their seats where they each received a Flux Box that contained flux work by Michael Basinski, Holly Melgard, Monica Angle, Sam Magavern, Chris Fritton, Alice Baily, John Toth, Eddy Penn, Esther Neisen, Ed Sobala and Penny Birch. The fun continued.

An exquisite menu was prepared by Oliver’s paired with wines donated by Burt Notarius.

During dinner, flux events continued, and included Bannon performing Danger Music #17 by Dick Higgins. This work had Bannon screaming Joe E. Brown style at the top of his lungs and being accompanied by other Bufffluxus performers that now included Brian Milbrand, Holly Johnson, and yours truly. Dinner continued to be interrupted by flux events including,

String Piece by Alison Knowles
Tie up the audience.

3 Piano Pieces by George Brecht

Flute Solo by George Brecht

Kitty Piece by Natalie Basinski
Look for a Kitty and call for a Kitty

The special feature was a performance of Randy Newman’s Leave Your Hat On sung most exquisitely by the voluptuous Holly Johnson who lured Bannon in submission as he stood on his chair and followed her every command. As patrons left the museum they were given one last gift, a copy of the photo they posed for at the beginning of the evening.

It was a swell evening, and I would personally like to thank each of our supporters and a special thanks to the staff for their hard work in seeing this through. Extremely special thanks must go to all the artists who gave their time and work to make this such a stimulating event. Thank Michael Basinski, Holly Melgard, Monica Angle, Sam Magavern, Alice Baily, John Toth, Brian Milbrand, Esther Neisen, Ed Sobala, Michael Colquhoun, John Toth, Holly Johnson, Alexis Luttrell, Jordan Bonanno, Ed Cardoni, Cheryl Jackson, and Andrew Delmonte.

—Don Metz
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Don Metz is associate director, public programming at the Burchfield Penney.