Once, sometime in the 60s, Remco Campert said: These days you can stamp your feet once in Amsterdam and you've got a Happening on your hands. But in the meantime that stamping has been declared true and respectable art. All that happened then is now being treasured inside museums- and if it weren't so pathetic, it could even be funny. Even the Happenings' granddad, Alan Kaprow, has not been able to avoid becoming en vogue now, with an exhibition in the Van Abbe Museum.
In those days, you had to keep your eyes peeled for things happening, the Happening as it was called. Amsterdam especially had a reputation as a magic centre. But looking back on all that, it now seems too idealistic, too naïve, too conscientiously artistic or too noisily provocative. No one re-viewing all those manifestations, recorded on black-and-white film or photo, feels obliged to bring it all back to life.
One question urges itself upon us though: What would a Happening be like in this day and age? Is there a possible middle ground between John Cage's happening as an Art Form and Jan Cremer's thoughts on a Vitaliser? Would it be possible, without nostalgic sentiments, to retrieve some remnant of the artistic impulse? Perhaps the best way would be to taboo the old image of the Happening and go for it with a clean slate. And to do that in a world where writer Houllebecq's cynicism is all the rage, hooligans re-enact the true 'happenings' in the streets, but also a world in which the artist often all too happily retreats into his artistic shell.
The it's Happening Now! show, organised by Mediamatic on May 6 2007 has the characteristics of a film set. Cameramen will trump the filming cellphones of the public in documenting what is happening. It will be a stage for a cinematic event at which the new talent will create a stir, but the old avant-gardist will still come into his own. With a leading role for the audience, the motto being: Make your own Happening!
Location: Club-restaurant 11, Post CS building, Oosterdokskade 5 1011 AD, Amsterdam.
The manifestation was supported by: