The Fluxus Network: An Interview With Hillary Jacobs


In preparation for the release of Issue 5 on June 6, GRAPHITE editor Hana Cohn sat down with Hillary Jacobs to discuss her essay in the upcoming journal about the Fluxus art “movement.” In “Fluxus as a Network,” Jacobs investigates the ways Fluxus embodied the loose, permeable structure of a network.

Hana Cohn: How did you come to Fluxus? Had you written about the group before?

Hillary Jacobs: I first heard about Fluxus while I was taking a summer class at UCLA on post-WWII art, called Artwork in Flux. The professor, Natalie Harren, was working on her PhD dissertation on Fluxus, which seemed to guide the general course of the class. It was during this time I thought of what would later become my senior thesis, a comparison of a Fluxus work by Alison Knowles, The Identical Lunch, and Andy Warhol’s 100 Campbell Soup Cans.

HC: Had you always thought of Fluxus’s structure as a network? Or did the theme of this year’s GRAPHITE journal prompt a new envisioning?

HJ: When it came to writing my thesis, I remember that one day my advisor, George Baker, asked me how I would define Fluxus. I blurted some vague answer, not because I hadn’t done the research or was unprepared. Instead, I think it is hard to say exactly what Fluxus was–and still is. I do not think I could even give a solid answer on how Fluxus worked now because I think it truly limits the understanding of their process. In that case, I did not always think of Fluxus’s structure as a network, and I still do not think it is the only way to think of their structure. Rather I find that questioning the ramifications of an art movement or art group that focuses on embodied experience and has a structure that can be seen as comparable to a network is worthy of exploration. Ultimately, the GRAPHITE prompt gave me the opportunity to explore one of the possible classifications of Fluxus and delve deeper into the implications when associating Fluxus with networks.

HC: Do you see Fluxus’s form as a precedent for other art movement or social relations in general?

HJ: I’ve never really thought of Fluxus in that way… I’ve always been more interested in trying to parse out the logic of the works and the lessons they are trying to teach individually and collectively. Fluxus in many ways is about presence–and it feels strange to think about Fluxus outside of that.

HC: If Fluxus was still Fluxus do you think they would utilize mediums like the Internet (and other telecommunicative methods) to expand their network? Would it transform the way you look at their work?

HJ: I think many people would say Fluxus still exists today and makes use of new technologies. A quick Google search will bring you to, which vehemently denies the end of Fluxus. Obviously, this form of Fluxus looks different than that of the 1960s, but the Fluxus of the 70s looked differently than the original group. That is one of the most useful parts of the network structure of Fluxus, it allows for such malleability and transformation. And in the end, with Fluxus it does not matter how you look at the work, but rather how you experience the work and yourself at any given moment.

Stay tuned for more contributor interviews and profiles. GRAPHITE Issue 5: Networks will be released on June 6.