A museum retrospective for the late Allan Kaprow almost seems paradoxical. While Kaprow wasn’t an anti-establishment artist, he certainly functioned outside of institutional constraints. Nonetheless, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art has taken on Kaprow‘s spontaneous aesthetic, hosting a flexible off-site exhibition that reinvents Kaprow’s Happenings of the 1970s and 1980s. Artists throughout Los Angeles are restaging Kaprow’s collaborative performances for this sporadic exhibition which began in March and continues through June 30th. The exhibition, titled Art as Life, attempts to maintain the loose character of Kaprow’s performances, re-envisioning rather than repeating specific Happenings.
Kaprow began trying to art more like life in 1950s, eventually coining the phrase”Happenings,” which loosely refers to barely orchestrated events in which people simply do something. Some of Kaprow’s performances were confrontational and political – like Don’t in 1970, a performance in which participants held signs that said “Do not enter” and blockaded a square of grass – while others were clearly about the way people live. In Time Pieces, originally performed in 1973 and reinvented by Art Center College, participants exchanged breath, kisses, or read each other’s pulses. Trading Dirt, originally a 1983 performance in which participants literally exchanged buckets of dirt, has been reinvented as a gossip blog. In the above video, volunteers, students, and artists recreate Kaprow’s Fluids, building ice block structures throughout Los Angeles and emphasizing the impermanence of urban spaces.