Benjamin Patterson: Born in the State of FLUX/us is a retrospective of the artist’s career, which now spans nearly fifty years. Emerging in the early 1960s with work that fell under the rubric of Fluxus or Neo-Dada, Benjamin Patterson co-organized the first International Festival of New Music, which debuted at the Staatsmuseum in Wiesbaden in 1961. One of the last surviving members of that constellation of artists whose works were featured at the festival—John Cage, Dick Higgins, Emmett Williams, Philip Corner, David Tudor, and Nam June Paik, among others—Patterson helped to revolutionize the artistic landscape of the times and usher in an era of new and experimental music.
Trained in classical music instrumentation and composition, Patterson made his most significant contribution to Fluxus with his concept of the “gesture of music”—the combination of sound, action, and composition. His iconic works Paper Piece (1959), Variations on Double Bass (1961), and later Lick Piece (1964) have all become staples in the Fluxus performance handbook. For the first time, Patterson’s annotated scores and instructions for performances will be on exhibit. Accompanying these scores is audio and video documentation of the artist’s performances over the last five decades. In addition to scores and performance documentation, Born in the State of FLUX/us will feature one-of-a-kind artist books, puzzle poems, paintings, sculptures and installation works created by Patterson.
Now in his seventies, Patterson is being “discovered” by a new generation of artists. This exhibition marks his first major exhibition, bringing together a multitude of works never before seen in the United States. It also underscores the significant contributions of this artist, whose presence within the dynamic constellation of Fluxus is palpable. This exhibition provides audiences with their first comprehensive look at this artist’s work and explores his contributions to both Fluxus and the larger contemporary art landscape.