press release

From the late 1950's, Knud Pedersen ran his Art Library from the then Nicolai Church (now Nikolaj, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center), and this was where some of the first international Fluxus concerts took place in November 1962, arranged in co-operation with Arthur Köpcke and Det Unge Tonekunstnerselskab, The Society of Young Composers.

From the outset, these concerts gathered an enormous media attention, but caused such a huge scandal that all attention stopped, Danish television decided to erase the tapes which had been recorded, and for decades to come "Fluxus" became a term of abuse in Danish art. On the other hand, these early Fluxus concerts have become legendary, and today it is clear that today's contemporary art would be inconceivable without, among others, the radical experience that was Fluxus.

How to define Fluxus is a contested issue by the artists involved and researchers alike; but basically Fluxus can be seen as an international network of artists whose works shared a number of common features, among these a departure from the notion that art must necessarily manifest itself as an object - instead Fluxus focused on the process, thus paving the way for the centrality of various kinds of performances, events, etc., as well as the interaction with an audience. One should not only be an onlooker but take part. Another important common denominator was the intermediary emphasis, i.e., artistic strategies located in the cross field of two or more traditional artistic modes of expression, such as for instance visual art, music or poetry. Another characteristic was the way Fluxus focused on international networks and thus anticipated today's globalisation by decades.

In the years following 1962, Nikolaj was the centre of several Fluxus- and Fluxus-related events, and also after the Art Library in the late 60's relocated from Nikolaj to the nearby Nicolajgade (where it can still be found), Knud Pedersen maintained his contacts. And his Collection, as it appears today, reflects all of these contacts and collaborations over the years. Maybe the best way to describe this Collection is as a kind of solar system, with Fluxus at its centre and with a cluster of other manifestations, in varying degrees related to Fluxus, revolving around it.

The large Collection numbers a total of some 1,300 items within all kinds of materials: films to be shown in Nikolaj's cinema, objects, scores, manuscripts, sound works to be heard on Nikolaj's jukebox, prints, etc.

The very form of the exhibition itself is being debated whenever Fluxus is involved, since the majority of it does not represent itself in traditional art objects but in temporal and thus fleeting forms. Our only way of knowing about these art manifestations is to turn to the material surrounding them, i.e., to various forms of documentation.

Documentary material is often considered as something secondary in connection with art exhibitions; but in the case of Fluxus, it remains our only source if we want to acquaint ourselves with this surprising aspect of recent art history. So with this exhibition of the Knud Pedersen Collection we have decided to go the other way about it, and instead we have emphasised the archival side of things and have built up a system of long passages of archive shelves.

PDA-based archive system: Whereas the long passages of archive shelves point to a historical perspective, the way that each item is presented is highly contemporary. At the information desk, visitors may borrow a mini computer to take with them at the exhibition, and with that in hand they will be able to further explore the items that they want to know more about.

Co-ordinator: Malene Ratcliffe, architect: Carsten Hoff, IT support: Skjøt Consult.

The exhibition was sponsored by The Danish Arts Council's Committee for Visual Arts, Augustinusfonden and NORDPLAN.


Fluxus & Non-Fluxus Fluxus (Archival)
The Knud Pedersen Collection