Art's Birthday: National Public Holiday
Wednesday, January 17, 1990 at 9 pm PST
FAX and Slowscan: 1-3 pm and 12 - 2 am PST
Bring a birthday present for Art. Have a piece of birthday cake and a glass of bubbly. Dance. Art's Birthday is an international party. We will be celebrating with friends of art across Canada and connected to France by picturephone (Slowscan) and FAX.
How old is Art? A million years ago, there was no Art - Art was Life. But then, on the 17th of January, someone expressed their wonder of the world and Art was born. In 1973, French artist Robert Filliou proposed to the city of Aachen, West Germany, that a public holiday be declared to celebrate Art's Birthday. The mayor complied, kids were let out of school, bands played and everyone had a good time. In 1974, Art's Birthday was again a grand fete as thousands from the Eternal Network gathered to celebrate the Deccadance at the Elk's Lodge in Hollywood.
Join us for videos and long distance phone calls, plus music, entertainments and lots of jokes, as the Western Front joins other artist-run centres in Canada, and France, in restoring this ancient custom.
(From FRONT Magazine, January 1990, pg 5, by Hank Bull)
Fax Network. Live slowscan exchange with Joachim Pfeufer, Alain Gibertie and students at l'École de Beaux Arts in Nantes, France.
(Notes from Whispered Art History: 20 years at the Western Front, Arsenal Pulp Press: Vancouver, 1993, pg 141)
Robert Filliou by Alain Gilbertie
(Feature from FRONT Magazine, January 1990, pg 9, translated by Phillip Corner)
"Art is what makes life more interesting than art."
Robert Filliou was a French poet and artist who died in 1987. Here is an appreciation by Alain Gibertie.
He was for many the artist's artist. To speak of him, the human inventor of Otherism, to maintain the flame, to forget this individual (is it possible?), this certain smile, demands that one forget thought, forget reason in order to dissolve, if I daresay, into pure energy. To try (uniquely on this occassion) to say the unsayable, with which it is impossible to cheat. To penetrate into the very soul of love, without joy or pain, with neither desire nor suffering. Eternal light, which he has probably glimpsed.
I request only one wild card: "The Principle of Equivalence: Well Made, Badly Made, Not Made," this non-order which we should all assert in a State of "Permanent Creation." The "Ideal Filliou" is now being realised, at this very moment: "to decide nothing, to choose nothing, to want nothing, to possess nothing, fully awake, sitting quietly, doing nothing."
Yes, rather than analyse (the specialists will do that), to draw from the source of this universal thought certain simple phrases, so as not to make an error. It goes like this:
"It all started on the 17th of January, one million years ago. A man took a dry sponge and dropped it into a bucket full of water. Who that man was is not important. He is dead but art is alive. I mean let's keep names out of this. As I was saying, at about 10 o'clock in the morning, on the 17th of January, one million years ago, a man sat alone by the side of a running stream. He though to himself: Where do streams go and why? Meaning why do they run, or why do they run where they run? That sort of thing. Personally, once I observed a baker at work. Then a blacksmith and a shoemaker. At work. And I noticed that the use of water was essential to their work. But perhaps what I have noticed is not important. Anyway the 17th goes into the 18th, then the 19th then the 20th the 21st the 22nd the 23rd the 24th the 25th the 26th the 27th the 28th the 29th the 30th the 31st of January. Thus time goes by."
One million years ago Art was Life. Then he started to move on, like the streams, to avoid becoming sedentary, isolated with that sponge at the bottom of the water. "FROM MADNESS TO NO-MADNESS." He discovered that the "Principles of Equivalence" of "Permanent Creation" were going to be the ways of communication between people: to arrive at a "happy solitude of each human being." Meditating somewhere, facing "The Seat of Ideas" (a camp chair without the cloth seat) he went "Bankrupt" and "The Smiling Cedilla" turned the page to announce the realisation of "THE ETERNAL NETWORK - La fete permanente." (The negative inevitably leads us to the positive.) "Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so," said Shakespeare.
One day he constructed his first work: "The Immortal Death of the World," an auto-theatrical play which creates itself as it goes along. I'm telling you all this mixed up, I don't remember very well what they mean by chronological order. All that he could be in the course of his life .. "Ample Food for Stupid Thought." One day, remembering perhaps that sponge at the bottom of the water, he said, "I do not consider that artistic behaviour consists in producing works of art; to create artworks is an activity of exchange. Artistic activity is for me a spiritual activity that all artists practise."
And time passes, and the world changes. In the same period, after men had walked on the moon (space tourist), "The Artist in Peace/Space Project" was born, and "Research on the Origin" (the "Principle of Equivalence" applied to the permanent creation of the universe). A little later, on the way towards "PEACE," he imagined a communion of three knowings, which would open the doors of awareness and peace for the human beings of our planet: Know how to live (the artist), Know how to do (the scientist), Know how to be (the sage). "THE PEACE BIENNALE" was born.
Yes, time passes .. Today, his wife Marianne and daughter Marcelline are again living in that little house with red shutters in Moustier, near Les Eyzies and the caves of Lascaux; in that country they call "The Cradle of Art." "WITH LOVE FROM CRO-MAGNON AND FROM CRO-MAGNON, ADIEU."
One day, somewhere in Dordogne, in this 20th Century, falling prey to a serious questioning, I met him and asked, "Could it be that to be an artist means simply to try and be fully alive, without either producing or showing?" He responded that several years before he had asked himself the same question. A great Lama had given him the answer: "Whatever you know, teach."
But .. have I accelerated "the speed of art?" Are we now "5 billion years ahead?" What I am sure of is that this man I met weighed "60 tomatoes" more or less, and you?
"OH, TO KNOW HOW TO DIE IN ORDER TO LIVE, AH!"
- translated from French by Phillip Corner
(FRONT, January 1990, pg 9, by Alain Gibertie)