In collaboration with (link: http://www.tulipsandroses.lt text: Irrationalism) and (link: http://www.rupert.lt text: Rupert), the Network Architecture Lab hosted "Contemporary Flux," an exhibit and residency by a group of visiting Lithuanian artists at Studio-X New York in September 2013. This exhibit is sponsored by the International Culture and Art Dissemination Fund of the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture.
Contemporary Flux begins with our observation that the connection between Lithuania and Soho is crucial to the development of the area as New York's foremost art district in the postwar era. In August 1966 George Maciunas set out to found an artists collective in Soho with the help of Jonas Mekas, envisioning a Kolhkoz with a Fluxshop and a 120-seat cinema at 16-18 Greene Street, just East of the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, formerly the site of Manhattan’s first Lithuanian-American community.
Although the Greene Street cooperative was not to be, Maciunas would go on to develop a series of lofts in Soho, all the while lurching from one crisis to another as he faced issues with money and deadlines. As a consequence of his going against accepted practices, on 8 November 1975, thugs hired by electrical contractor Peter D. Stefano had Maciunas beaten severely, causing Maciunas to lose an eye. Ten years after Maciunas had started his project in Soho, he set out for New Marlborough, Massachusetts where he would purchase a farm in hopes of starting a new, exurban Flux collective. His obituary in the May 11, 1978 issue of the New York Times read “George Maciunas, Artist and Designer Organized Fluxus to Develop Soho.”
In the thirty-five years after Maciunas departed Soho, the nascent postmodernization of the area has long been complete. Not only is the industry in the area long gone, so are the art practices that eulogized it. Contemporary Soho is a preeminent location for flagship stores, boutiques, and a new infrastructure of media and design that services the needs of this global city. On the farthest western reaches of Soho, Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation Studio-X research facility offers a site to investigate, if only temporarily, possible transactions between art and architecture, New York and Lithuania.
Contemporary Flux investigates art that can travel and can initiate a conversation. Dialogic and open-ended, such works reverse the Fluxmail that Maciunas sent from his base in Soho to his friend Vytautas Landsbergis in Vilnius in the 1960s. We also inquire into what it means for artists to work in a collaborative environment with others, to negotiate a specific place that in turn is subject to the dispersed networks of globalized society, oversaturated, even exhausted by four decades of radical intensity.
Summary: Exhibit Studio-X