Ay-O, a Japanese artist who had been part of Fluxus in New York, returned to Japan in 1966 after an eight-year absence. Having just represented Japan at the Venice Bienniale, he held a solo exhibition at Tokyo’s Minami Gallery. His homecoming gave momentum to what could be called “Tokyo Fluxus” activities.
One of these activities was the Happening for Sightseeing Bus Trip in Tokyo, presented in this feature. Ay-O organized the piece in Tokyo on December 18, 1966, with the help of Shimizu Kusuo, the founder and director of Minami Gallery. Assistance was also provided by the artists Yamaguchi Katsuhiro and Akiyama Kuniharu, who had visited New York and were interested in both Fluxus and Happenings. The performers included artist Mieko Shiomi, another participant in New York Fluxus; Tone Yasunao, a former member of Group Ongaku and future member of Fluxus in New York; and the art critic Tono Yoshiaki, who often promoted the emerging art of performance. Because the term “Happening” was more popular than “Event” in Japan, it was used in the title of the tour.
Around noon on that cold day, more than sixty participants boarded two rented buses near the Tokyo Station. In the manner of a commercial sightseeing tour, the buses made various stops across the city. At these stops, the performers realized more than fifteen works billed as Events and several others that were referred to as Happenings. While most of the pieces were by Fluxus artists, Ay-O included some by Happenings artists, including Allan Kaprow and Al Hansen, and also an Event by Yamaguchi. A review in Bijutsu Techo magazine (February 1967) explained that Happenings are “environmental play” and that staging them in the proper setting can be rather difficult, but concluded that the “participants seem to have enjoyed this prepared chance.”
Earlier on November 14, another Happening was held at the Sogetsu Art Center in conjunction with the exhibition Kukan kara kankyo e (From Space to Environment), where many of the same artists participated to promote the concept and practice of Fluxus in Japan. The Happening was recorded on film and in photographs taken by some of the participants. post presents the film and selected photographs by Nishiyama Teruo, who took part in the tour.
Details of the tour are provided in the photograph captions and are placed in the sequence in which they appear in the film.
Since around 1977 when Gilbert and Lila Silverman began to develop their Fluxus Collection, Jon Hendricks has played a central role in fostering the formation of that renowned collection that bears their names.
In the second half of an extended interview with Tone Yasunao for post, the composer, artist, and writer discusses the trajectory of his work from graphic scores in the 1960s to his recent work with digital media.
An extensive two-part interview with Tone, together with documentation from a concert of his works that was held at The Museum of Modern Art in January 2013 in the context of the exhibition Tokyo 1955–1970: A New Avant-Garde, and with material related to his output, since the 1960s, as a musician, artist, and critic.