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The artist works (trans-)culturally: Nam June Paik and other Fluxus artists negotiating collaborative authorship

The project critically examines collaborative artistic practices and aesthetic concepts with the aim to question cultural conditions, demarcations and dynamics of contemporaneous and subsequent notions of artistic authorship which emerged in the early 1960s in connection with the network of Fluxus artists – dominantly active across Europe, the USA and Japan. The project will study a diachronically organized series of (partially) related collaborative constellations that each take Nam June Paik (1932-2006) as pivotal or contrasting figure. The synchronous analysis of Paik’s developing (power) positions and the ways in which he positioned himself or was positioned by others when collaborating with colleagues such as John Cage, Joseph Beuys, Charlotte Moormann, Shuya Abe or Shigeko Kubota will allow to discern structural similarities and differences of (collaborative) authorship, while it avoids presupposing the static notion of the author as singular, authoritative figure. Rather, hagiographic and evolutionist narratives as well as labels of Paik as the “father of video art” or “cultural nomad” will be examined as potential strategies to successfully constitute and preserve (his) authorship in various multi-vocal and multi-local discursive and institutional practices. In turn, boundaries, limits and moments of conflict, in which collaboration failed or in which reception questioned collaborative authorship, will be taken into account.

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