8 February - 15 March 2018

Gallery Hours: TBD.

As the inventor of Happenings in the late 1950s, Allan Kaprow has been variously described as an avant-garde revolutionary, a radical sociologist, a Zen(ish) monk, a progressive educator, and an anti-art theorist. But he must also be understood as an artist. While he will forever be associated with the improvisations of the early 1960s, Kaprow’s works have gradually moved from the public, spectacular features of the early Happenings toward a more genuinely participatory art in which the once privileged content of the artist gives way to the personal experience of the participant.

As Kaprow, a long-time faculty member at UC San Diego, who died in 2006, once put it, the question underlying his experimental art has been, “How does one eliminate the audience without cancelling the performance?” The answer, he discovered, was to convert the audience into participants through enactment.

Everyday life is the subject matter of Allan Kaprow’s art. Not life in general, but life in particular. Breathing into your partner’s mouth, sweeping the street until the pile of litter is too big, going on “a shopping spree at Macy’s.” What Kaprow called “life-like art” looks less like other art - paint on a canvas or a performance on a stage - that like everyday life - say, sweeping the stage after the actors and audience has gone home. Kaprow wanted to experience and reflect upon the significance of commonplace activities without calling attention to them as art.

For this gallery space, three videos are intended to play simultaneous during Winter Quarter gallery hours. One - Household, 1964 - is silent. Another is a string of video
documents from Happenings enacted by Kaprow around 1970. The final video captures various moments in symposia and interviews from over the past twenty-five years in which individuals reflection upon the nature of Kaprow’s art and the meanings of their own experiences during their enactments of it. Some of those reflections come from current UC San Diego enactments of various Kaprow Happenings and activities.

Curated by Jeff Kelley.

Visual Arts Gallery @ Structural & Materials Engineering Building (SME), UC San Diego, La Jolla, California

Image Credit:
Allan Kaprow, Sweet Wall, 1980.

Jeff Kelly is an UC San Diego Department of Visual Arts Lecturer and MFA Alum.

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