Simona Siderevičiūtė , 2010 11 10


J.Mačiūnas and Billy Hatchings

The bar

Tasty chess

Double of Mačiūnas

Sand cake

Chess board

Taxi. Photos by S. Siderevičiūtė

“Joke! Relax!” – this was the most important order to the people who gathered to the 79th birthday of Jurgis Mačiūnas at Kaunas Picture Gallery of the National M.K.Čiurlionis Art Museum yesterday. It was the festival of Fluxus art too. All willing people could congratulate J.Mačiūnas by thoughts, and the lucky ones could congratulate the double of the artist, who appeared for the only performance on that evening.

The new trend of art, Fluxus, inspired by J.Mačiūnas (1931-1978) opposes commercial art and invites everyone to feel an artist and creator. Fluxus is a game, joke, attempt to liberate a man from constraint and the first medicine to an art admirer infected with boredom. The trend is unique by its constant change, capability to surprise and remain free from all restrictions. It is art suitable for everybody, when there is no border between art and life, when daily life is art and people – its creators.

J. Mačiūnas surprised by the most unexpected ideas, original attitude to life; most probably he would not have been disappointed by such 79th birthday. Informal atmosphere prevailed in the festival, as it should be, and the performance “Cabaret” presented at the beginning of the festival granted even more charm to the evening.

J.Mačiūnas, who arrived at the festival by a stylised plane “Boeing” along with Jonas Mekas and Billy Hatchings, congratulated the participants of the birthday. Afterwards he changed the wig magically and turned from Billy to himself showing in this way that so little was needed to become a different man, and that the range between us and the person beside us is very fragile.

The audience was involved into the so-called situations during the performance: they had to taste the sand cake (the leftovers of which the majority carried home!), to play with edible chess or huge cards with unclear symbols.

The participants were encouraged to create performances themselves and enjoy the chance to turn the moment of life into art even after the “official part” of the birthday.

Some people took the original taxi, others refreshed their souls and bodies with water drawn from the big bucket themselves, yet others experienced strange feelings in the mysterious black hole, from which they came out with big eyes and throbbing heart.

A film about J.Mačiūnas and his performances was shown in the stylised cinema. People unable to sit in one place went to the yard of the gallery, where they could feel as real figures of chess and checkers on the huge board of the game and to experience moments of victory or loss.

The organiser of the event and soul of the birthday Eglė Velaniškytė noticed that J.Mačiūnas was devalued in his homeland wantonly; therefore, the objective of this birthday was to waken up the spirit of Mačiūnas in Kaunas and to encourage non-commercial art.

According to the painter, art should be understandable and necessary to every person, and a real artist should be professional, intellectual and honest with himself/herself and the viewer, as the “holy trinity” (art, artist and viewer) cannot live without any single other part.

Speaking about works of J.Mačiūnas and Fluxus art, E.Velaniškytė emphasised the importance of constant change: “Progress, even regress means movement; the worst is to stand in one place”. The works of J.Mačiūnas surprise by their unexpected idea, gaiety and lightness, and laughter is so necessary to Lithuanians.

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