The ‘Bar’, Where would we be without Kaprow?

Allan Kaprow.

Rules of a Happening: 

Kaprow, A., 1966, “The Sixties: Happenings are Dead, Long Live the Happenings!” in Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life, ed. J. Kelley, University of California Press, 1993.

1. The line between the happening and daily life should be kept as fluid and perhaps indistinct as possible. 

The bar was cleverly set up to mask the experiment. People were unable to really distinguish our project from just serving drinks for the exhibitions open night.

 2.  Themes, materials, actions, and the associations they evoke are to be gotten from anywhere except from   the arts, their derivatives and their milieu (eliminate the arts and any connection with them, happenings are not a composite or “total” art).

The bar had very little links with art at all. It had closer links with sociology, psychology, psycho-geography, and the only elements of the bar, which, could be connected to the world of art, was the fact that it was staged in a gallery. Although it was in a gallery it did not discriminate against who would use it and was connected to students, artists, teachers, owners, family and friends.

 3. The happening should be dispersed over several widely spaced sometimes moving and changing locales (Single spaces tend to be static and limiting).

The Experiment only happened in the one place but brought expectations from previous gallery openings.

4. Time, closely bound up with things and spaces should be variable and independent of the convention of continuity. (All events have their own time.)

We started consuming beer 1 hour before the opening over dinner and set no other restraints on the proceedings of the night. We simply did the interviews when we felt enough people had consumed our non-alcoholic beer.

5. The composition of all materials, actions, images, and their times and spaces should be undertaken in as artless and again practical a way as possible.  (The avoidance of form theories associated with the arts that have to do with arrangement.)

Nothing from the bar was setup to look artistic. The masking tape that we used to label the bar was designed in a utilitarian fashion with no link to creative or artistic advertising

6. Happenings should be unrehearsed and performed by non-professionals, once only.

We didn’t rehearse for the experiment at all however we are all seasoned drinkers and have had experience in running bars. We are not professional actors or reporters and just got in there and gave it a go. The Bar was a once off experiment and never to be repeated.


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