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Allan Kaprow «18 Happenings in 6 Parts» | The artist during the performance
Allan Kaprow, «18 Happenings in 6 Parts», 1959
The artist during the performance | ©

 Allan Kaprow
«18 Happenings in 6 Parts»

«In his groundbreaking happening, presented at the Reuben Gallery in New York in the fall of 1959, Kaprow synthesized his training in action painting with his study of Cage’s scored and performed events. Working from a carefully conceived and tighlty scripted score, he created an interactive environment that manipulated the audience to a degree virtually unprecedented in 20th century art. The audience were given programs and three stapled cards, which provided instructions for their participation: ‹The performance is divided into six parts...Each part contains three happenings which occur at once. The beginning and end of each will be signaled by a bell. At the end of the performance two strokes of the bell will be heard...There will be no applause after each set, but you may applaud after the sixth set if you wish.› These instructions also stipulated when audience members were required to change seats and move to the next of the three rooms into which the gallery was divided.
These rooms were formed by semitransparent plastic sheets painted and collaged with references to Kaprow’s earlier work; by panels on which words were roughly painted, and by rows of plastic fruit. (...) In contrast to Cage, whose encouragement of the participation of audience members war motivated by his desire to relinquish authorial control, audience members in many of Kaprow’s Happenings became props through which the artist’s vision was executed.»

(source: Paul Schimmel, «Leap into the Void: Performance and the Object», in: Out of Actions: between performance and the object, 1949–1979, MoCA Los Angeles, New York/London, 1998, pp.61f.)