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Holy Fluxus. From the Francesco Conz Collection – St Matthew’s Church Berlin | 13.07.-08.09.2024

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After many years of cataloguing its extensive holdings, the Berlin-based Archivio Conz is presenting over 250 highlights from its important Fluxus collection to the public for the first time. The exhibition “Holy Fluxus – From the Francesco Conz Collection” at St Matthew’s Church in Berlin shows selected works by Dorothy Iannone, Allan Kaprow, George Maciunas, Hermann Nitsch, Yoko Ono, Carolee Schneemann and Daniel Spoerri, among others. Charlotte Moorman’s famous “avant-garde” Volkswagen will be on display in the foyer of the Kunstgewerbemuseum, with Nam June Paik’s dummy bomb on the roof.

Image above: Emmett Williams, Buntglasfenster für die Fluxus-Kathedrale. Copyrights: Archivio Conz

Fluxus has been a global phenomenon in the art world since the early 1960s: not an art movement, not -ism, not an avant-garde replacing the other, but an intellectual attitude, a “constellation” (Eugen Gomringer), a way of looking at life and art. Fluxus manifested itself predominantly in performances, festivals, actions and concerts – all forms based on experience, interaction and encounters between people, bringing together artists from a wide variety of art movements around the world, such as concrete poetry, Lettrism, pop art, conceptual art and new music. “Fluxus hasn’t even begun yet”, wrote Berlin artist Tomas Schmit 50 years ago, but with major exhibitions in the USA, Korea and Europe, this art has been rediscovered and reappraised in recent years.

Daniel Spoerri, Various artists, Emmett Williams, Six Variations Upon a Spoerri Landscape, 1973. Copyrights:Archivio Conz


Francesco Conz (1935-2010) war ein obsessiver Sammler, Mäzen, Kurator, Künstlerfreund und der „Produzent als Künstler sui generis“ (Thomas Marquard). Sein Interesse konzentrierte sich seit 1972 – nach einer Begegnung mit Hermann Nitsch, Günter Brus und Joe Jonas in Berlin – auf Lettrismus, Konkrete Poesie, Wiener Aktionismus, Fluxus, Musik und Literatur. Über Jahrzehnte hatte er ein einmaliges weltweites Netzwerk mit Künstlern:innen geschaffen. Seine unermüdlichen Aktivitäten als Verleger von über 560 Kunst-Editionen (Edizioni Conz) in der norditalienischen Stadt Asolo, dann in Verona, haben zur Entwicklung vom Fluxus in Italien und weltweit wesentlich beigetragen. Seit 2016 ist das Archivio Conz mit seinen ca. 5000 Objekten von über 200 Künstler:innen in Berlin beheimatet und wird nun nach acht Jahre dauernder Katalogisierung und Digitalisierung erstmals umfänglich der Öffentlichkeit präsentiert.

Philip Corner, Robert Delford Brown, Jean Dupuy, John Furnival, Geoffrey Hendricks, Dick Higgins, Allan Kaprow, Larry Miller, Benjamin Patterson, Takako Saito, Various artists: On This Stove Many Meals Were Cooked by Francesco and
Others in the Extended Fluxus Family, 1997. Copyrights: Archivio Conz

The exhibition “Holy Fluxus – From the Francesco Conz Collection” shows Fluxus as a global network of individuals and consciously explores the location – St Matthew’s Church in Berlin. It shows the parallels and inspirations between art and the church. “Every new artistic creation is a new interpretation of paradise; to disregard this reinterpretation of theology is to break with past culture and the future of humanity,” writes Isidore Isou, the founder of Lettrism, in one of his exhibited works. As spiritual grandchildren of the Dadaists, survivors of the Second World War, successors of Marcel Duchamp and John Cage, Fluxus artists questioned the belief in the work of art and all image worship (idolatry), but not art itself.

Their radical response to the crisis of the artwork in the 20th century was (not without parallels to the Ecclesia) the conception of art as a community, not bound to any ideology or concept other than the ongoing address to people in society. The critical or even humorous confrontation with the church is virulent in many works, such as the “First National Church often the Exquisite Panic, Inc.” by the American artist Robert Delford Brown, the “Church Windows for the Fluxus Cathedral” by Emmett Williams or the “Last Supper” by Hermann Nitsch. Spirituality is a central theme for Fluxus. Francesco Conz, who came from a deeply devout Catholic family, developed a special interpretation of “fetish” as a term for all remnants of the artistic process, a kind of relic of artists – the saints and martyrs of art. These fetishes – whether an item of clothing, a paintbrush or an artist’s tooth – did not have the status of a work of art for Conz, but they hold the magic of creation.

Eugen Gomringer, Untitled (Silencio), 1955, 1990. Copyrights: Archivio Conz

For the Fluxus artists, art as an experience of life manifested itself, among other things, in communal gatherings around the table. The table in the extension of the altar takes on a symbolic role as a carrier of the community. It will bring the altar to the people and at the same time, as a horizontal exhibition space, present the three aspects of art as a community that were important to Conz and Fluxus: the table as a place of encounter, of multi-authorhood and of fetishes.

Music and concrete poetry as forms of interpersonal communication form a further focus of the exhibition. A free supporting programme rounds off the exhibition every Tuesday at 7 pm with concerts, readings and performances. Organised by Petr Studeny (Prague) and Hanns Zischler with the Dichtungsring (Berlin), the programme will feature Eric Andersen, Petr Balka, Miroslav Beinhauer, George Brecht, Luciano Chessa, Anna Clementi, Werner Durand, Deborah Walker and Agnese Toniutti, among others, playing, singing and speaking works by Eric Andersen, Sylvia Clementi, Werner Durand, Deborah Walker and Agnese Toniutti. including works by Eric Andersen, Sylvano Bussotti, John Cage, Giuseppe Chiari, Philip Corner, Henning Christiansen, Werner Durand, Öyvind Fahlström, Geoffrey Hendricks, Toshi Ichiyanagi, Milan Knížák, Györgi Ligeti, Chris Newman, Yoko Ono, Giacinto Scelsi and Miko Shiomi.

Charlotte Moorman, Bomb Cello, 1984. Copyrights: Archivio Conz

The exhibition is curated by Hubertus v. Amelunxen, Director of the Archivio Conz, and the art historian and curator Monika Branicka, organised by the Archivio Conz and the St. Matthäus Foundation. Charlotte Moorman’s Volkswagen is being shown in co-operation with the Museum of Decorative Arts. Around 250 works by Eric Andersen, Alain Arias-Misson, Augusto and Haraldo de Campos, Ugo Carrega, Guiseppe Chiari, Henri Chopin, Philip Corner, Claudio Costa, Robert Delford Brown, Sari Dienes, Eric Dietman, Jean Dupuy, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Esther Ferrer, Robert Filliou, Ken Friedman, John Furnival, Ilse and Pierre Garnier, John Giorno, Eugen Gomringer, Ludwig Gosewitz, Bohumila Grögerová, Brion Gysin, Al Hansen, Bernard Heidsieck, Geoffrey Hendricks, Dick Higgins, Josef Hiršal, Sylvester Houédard, Dorothy Iannone, Isidore Isou, Tom Johnson, Joe Jones, Allan Kaprow, Milan Knížák, Alison Knowles, Richard Kostelanetz, Arrigo Lora-Totino, George Maciunas, Jackson Mac Low, Larry Miller, Charlotte Moorman, Michael Morris, Hermann Nitsch, Ann Noël, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Ben Patterson, Mimmo Rotella, Gerhard Rühm, Saito Takako, Carolee Schneemann, Paul Sharits, Mieko Shomi, Daniel Spoerri, Jirí Valoch, Ben Vautier, Robert Watts, Emmett Williams and many others. many more


Exhibition dates: 13.07. – 08.09.2024

Opening: Friday, 12 July 2024, 7 pm

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11 am to 6 pm


St Matthew’s Church
10785 Berlin


Admission free

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