Introduction: The Carp, the Duck, and the Shifting Sands of Action Art
Rivers of ink have flowed into writing on the international artists’ network Fluxus—by, for, and against Fluxus, toward and from Fluxus; to create, explain, justify, comment on, or analyze it. On occasion, this ink has aided in understanding Fluxus’s raison d’être, but just as often it has only served to obscure it. So much has been written on Fluxus—calling upon its name either to completely abjure it or to reinterpret the entirety of art and life from it—that at times one cannot help but feel that, more than an artistic phenomenon, Fluxus is a figure of thought, a concept which is extraordinarily malleable in the field of intellectual speculation. The fascinating thing about it is that this supple intellectual creation is, above all, the work of its own exponents, who contributed their different manners of its understanding, utilizing, and narrating.
This article focuses on the case of the German artist Wolf Vostell, one of the many exponents of Fluxus who wrote his own version of its history—including a critical appraisal of it. Although the Fluxus scholarship has paid scarce attention to him, his example is one of the most remarkable, alongside those of George Maciunas, the tireless promoter of Fluxus, and Dick Higgins, the self-described “other theoretician” of the artists’ network. The uniqueness of Vostell's case can be summed up in three points: means used, chronology, and effectiveness in the medium term for determining the critical reception of Fluxus and action art. The study of this case, attending to these three questions, constitutes a fundamental chapter in the revision of the historiography of Fluxus and the intricate vicissitudes which it has gone through for decades as a direct consequence of the initiatives of the artists themselves.
The means used by Vostell were editorial in nature, something that in itself is unexceptional in the context of Fluxus, where the artist's own editions and artist-run publishing houses (such as Higgins’ Something Else Press) were essential tools, not only in giving voice to the different visions of Fluxus, but as vehicles enabling its very existence. However, it is precisely against this background that Vostell's editorial initiative stands out most strikingly: unlike Maciunas and Higgins, who first and foremost employed verbal and diagrammatic language, Vostell wrote his version of Fluxus in the predominantly visual language of editorial design. It is true that over the years he backed up his account through innumerable interviews and statements, but the space in which his views came through in their most original and influential way was the magazine dé-coll/age, an artist publication on whose pages he created his own editorial aesthetic. Striking, persuasive, and communicatively efficacious, this aesthetic would become the editorial aesthetic of reference for action art and for the new artistic practices of the 1960s and 1970s in general, especially through its repercussions on the important magazine Interfunktionen edited by Friedrich W. Heubach.
The chronological factor also played in favor of its effectiveness: Vostell was ahead of his time when it came to envisioning the power that printed documents were going to have in the reception of action art’s ephemeral practices. His efforts marked the course of events from the first public presentations of Fluxus and, in the medium term, they managed to get the first retrospective exhibition ever devoted to it to adopt his point of view.
Happening & Fluxus was the title of that exhibition, curated by Harald Szeemann for the Kölnischer Kunstverein (Germany) in 1970. It was the second of the three major exhibitions that put the Swiss curator in the international spotlight as one of the most prominent and controversial supporters of the so-called Neo-avant-gardes of the 1960s and 1970s. The first had been When Attitudes Become Form (1969), and the third would be Kassel's documenta 5 (1972). Like these two exhibitions, Happening & Fluxus marked a milestone in the reception of the artistic practices it presented and was surrounded by controversy. What is interesting with regard to the subject at hand is that the controversy did not only stem from the public and the authorities, but very notably from the artists involved, many of whom were uncomfortable from the onset with the curator's approach. The reason for their discomfort began with the very title of the exhibition: “Every time I hear Fluxus and happening [sic] spoken in one breath or see them put together in a title for an exhibition,” explained the artist Tomas Schmit, “I shudder as if I saw a carp fuck a duck.” For Schmit, “These two things have very little in common and very much that keeps them apart,” an opinion he shared with Maciunas, as is well known.
The debate over the identity of Fluxus with regard to the Happening thereby ushered in the 1970s, but it had been forged during the previous decade through the collective and complex process that gave shape to the new territory of performance art, back then more generally called action art. In the early and mid-sixties, action art was an experimental field where possible subcategories such as the “Happening” or the “Event” were still in the process of being tested and defined. Thus, for example, if in 1970 Maciunas saw an insurmountable difference between Fluxus and the Happening, the truth is that eight years earlier he had used the second of these terms to present the series of performances that gave rise to the corpus of pieces characteristic of early Fluxus. The reasons why Fluxus and the Happening ultimately came to be defined as distinct and even antagonistic territories within action art were not purely aesthetic, but largely strategic, and were linked to confrontations between their respective exponents, as we shall see. In this context, the magazine dé-coll/age is at the same time testimony to and architect of the transformations that took place in the shifting sands of action art during the sixties. Through its ostensibly simply informative pages, Vostell became judge and jury of events by means of very personal editorial and graphic strategies, sometimes bordering on manipulation.
This article provides a study of the magazine dé-coll/age, understood both as an artwork itself (part of its editor’s aesthetics) and as simultaneously a historical object and subject. Consequently, its analysis is contextualized both within the creative principle that guided all of Vostell’s work and the events that marked the developments in the field of action art in Germany. A historical assessment is therefore offered here for a publication which Higgins—also at the same time judge and jury—described as “the best forum for avant garde ideas in Europe—by default, in the world.”
The dé-coll/age Principle and Vostell at a Crossroads
Interestingly enough, Vostell’s personal aesthetics were based on a cardinal principle which was at the heart of his oeuvre over the years and which was named exactly as his magazine: dé-coll/age—written in this way, with a hyphen and a slash, for very specific reasons. That Vostell called his magazine by the name of his aesthetic principle proves that from the very beginning he understood it as an extension of his own artistic practice—and this was actually very coherent, for his artistic practice was largely concerned with the media.
It can be said that the dé-coll/age principle stands for a manner of artistic intervention inspired by the violence of consumer society in a technologically driven postwar world, a form of violence that Vostell saw most vividly illustrated by the media, both by way of the information they provided and their own physical obsolescence. A clear example was provided by the advertising placards that caught Vostell's attention when he lived in Paris back in the mid-1950s. As a young German traumatized by the war, he was surprised to discover that the streets of the French capital, though not war-damaged like German cities, bore traces of violence on their walls, where the advertising placards glued on top of one another were worn out from being exposed to weather and traffic. He began imitating the process of degradation of the placards by peeling them off and bringing them to his studio, where he would further rip them up and erase them with corrosive acid. These were his first dé-coll/ages, a word that literally means “detaching” or “ungluing” in French.
The similarity between his way of acting upon placards and that of the “affiches lacérées” or, more precisely, “décollages,” of the artists linked to the French Nouveau Réalisme is striking. As a matter of fact, Vostell sought membership in the group at its founding in 1960 but was met with a rebuff. From then on, he always kept his distance from them, and retrospectively agreed with Pierre Restany in the latter’s refusal to include him within the group. The reason for the French theorist’s opposition was precisely what he called “la querelle du décollage.” From his point of view, Vostell employed the term in an excessively flexible and open-ended way. The German artist, for his part, criticized the object-based and fetishistic approach of the other décollagists, who limited their interventions to choosing the placards, ungluing them, and mounting them on canvas without any further manipulation. For him, the placards were only the starting point of an aesthetic wager that emphasized the processes of destruction of contemporary society in a much broader sense. To show that he had always worked with this procedural approach, and to draw a clear distinction between his work and that of the décollagists’, Vostell used two means: the story of his "discovery" of the term "décollage" and his way of writing it with a hyphen and a slash as if it were dismembered.
The story of the discovery of the term allegedly dates back to as early as 1954, the year in which on September 6 the French newspaper Le Figaro published the news of a plane that had crashed "shortly after takeoff" (“peu après son décollage”). According to Vostell, he was so impressed by the headline and intrigued by its use of the noun “décollage” that he ran out to buy a French-German Langenscheidt dictionary and was fascinated by the polysemy of the term, which, in addition to “unglue” and “take off,” also means “die” or “snuff it.” In this sense, for Vostell, the plane crash represented a double dé-coll/age event (to take off and, almost instantly, to die), and this duality summed up, in his opinion, the ambivalence of modern life, that always latent destructive component in the peace of a Europe still marked by war. On the whole, "décollage" was proving itself to be an extraordinarily flexible concept “that could be expanded in every direction in a mind-boggling way.”
To finish making it his own, Vostell adopted that dismembered way of writing it, which not only visually evokes the violence of lacerated placards or crashed planes, but also condenses all the metaphorical dimensions that he wanted to give his work as an image of his time. Undoubtedly influenced by contemporary visual and concrete poetry, Vostell dismantled the word "décollage" to assemble his own “dé-coll/age”. This was an objet trouvé—or, more precisely, a mot trouvé—found in the press, the dictionary, and contemporary civilization; that is why he maintained its lexicographical symbols, with a slash separating the “age” ending. Thanks to this device, along with the hyphen that he added between the syllables “dé” and “coll”, “dé-coll/age” also functions as a word of words, whose meanings he would play with in different languages within his magazine. Of these, the most important and obvious is the one that reminds us that the dé-coll/age principle was intended to be an allegory of its age.
After the placards, Vostell applied the dé-coll/age principle to other forms of media, including press photography (giving rise to his dé-coll/age—Verwishungen, i.e., dé-coll/age—blurrings) and television (TV—dé-coll/ages). Although I will not go into specific detail on his work using these media, what bears mentioning is that his approach to them was not as naive as his amazement at this new media-driven society might suggest. Rather, he was a professional regarding the production of the letters, images, and messages of the iconosphere. Early in his career, Vostell made his living for several years as a typographer and graphic designer. In Paris, while studying at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and ripping up placards, he worked in the important type foundry Deberny & Peignot as well as in the workshop of placard artist A. M. Cassandre. It was in fact one of Cassandre’s placard books which provided the stimulus for what would be Vostell’s first dé-coll/age—action The theater is on the street (1958). Later, back in Cologne in 1961, his work in the layout department of Neue Illustrierte magazine also had a direct impact on his artistic work. There, on a daily basis, he handled countless snapshots of hot topics, such as the raising of the Berlin Wall. This made him shift his focus from placards to press photography as raw material for his work. That is to say, Vostell’s aesthetic approaches drew directly from his experience as a graphic designer.
In this sense, it was likely only a matter of time before he put his professional know-how at the service of his artistic concerns by creating an artist’s magazine. In a way, this meant turning a defect into a virtue, because his dual dedication to graphic design and the fine arts was causing him certain difficulties when it came to making his way onto the Cologne art scene. Benjamin Patterson, one of his closest collaborators in the early 1960s, explained that Vostell found himself at a crossroads: “He was then still bumbling around, still caught between continuing an established career as a commercial artist and an overwhelming need to be recognized as a fine artist.” This need was proving difficult to meet precisely in part because of his work as a designer. The painter Mary Bauermeister, a leading figure in Cologne at that time, recognized years later that she and her peers “were so arrogant that we didn’t consider those who did graphic design as artists.” Besides, Vostell was making a good living as a graphic designer, which from her perspective took him even further away from the bohemian way of life of her circle. This meant that he was never invited to participate, not even as a spectator, in the activities of the well-known Atelier Bauermeister, a crucial meeting place between 1960 and 1961 for the artistic experimentation from which the performance and intermedia art practices of Fluxus in Germany would emerge.
Given these circumstances, Vostell had to go about creating his own alternative network of contacts and looking for opportunities to present his work, in spaces including his own atelier and the Galerie Haro Lauhus. Meanwhile, a new player emerged in the local art scene: the Lithuanian-American George Maciunas who, as it is widely known, arrived in Europe from the US in the fall of 1961 with the plan of issuing a yearbook devoted to the new artistic developments in intermedia, conceptual, and action art, which was to be titled Fluxus. It is difficult to know whether Vostell had planned to publish a periodical before learning of Maciunas's plans. The fact is that a few months after the latter’s arrival, Vostell had printed the first issue of the magazine dé-coll/age, which Maciunas interpreted as a clearly competitive gesture. Whether it was or not, this publication became instrumental for Vostell in his efforts to position himself as an artist both in the local art scene and internationally.
dé-coll/age, the Bulletin aktueller Ideen
Vostell's dé-coll/age magazine was printed between 1962 and 1969, comprising seven issues released irregularly in disparate formats. The first two—more modest in terms of quantity and variety of content than the following ones—were published in editions of 500 copies. The third, fourth, and sixth—those most relevant to the historiography of Fluxus and the Happening— doubled this figure. The fifth and seventh—the two exceptions within the editorial line of the magazine—went back to 500. As for the sites and rhythm of publication, the first three were carried out by the artist himself and were released in Cologne in rapid succession between June and December 1962. From the fourth one on, the Frankfurt-based publishing house Typos took over the magazine’s publication, and the rhythm slowed, with one- to two-year gaps between the appearance of issues.
As indicated by its title, the magazine represents a programmatic extension of the editor's aesthetic investigations. Furthermore, on more than one occasion Vostell reinforced this message through the design of the covers. dé-coll/age no. 1 bears a band illustrated with an enlarged negative copy of the Franco-German Langenscheidt’s definition of the word, with its various meanings. dé-coll/age no. 3’s cover also proffers a play on words by dividing the term into three units and offering definitions of each one in different languages: “dé” and “coll” here correspond to two prepositions, the Spanish “de” (“from,” “of ”) and the articulated Italian “con il” (“with the”), while “age” takes its meaning from the English. Finally, in dé-coll/age no. 6, the title is removed and is replaced by a facsimile of Le Figaro’s cover with the news story about the plane crashing during take-off.
Despite the patent desire of Vostell to make his magazine a manifestation of his personal aesthetic principle, it would be wrong to think that its seven issues are dedicated to his own work: only the last one is a monograph on a project of his own. Quite the opposite, he conceived of dé-coll/age in what might be considered a more generous and undoubtedly more ambitious manner: as a Bulletin aktueller Ideen, i.e., “Bulletin of Current Thinking.” The term “bulletin” refers to a type of periodical publication that provides information related to the activity of an organization, so there is a certain official quality to it. It thus follows that Vostell aspired to become the official spokesperson of a still-unnamed collective entity devoted to a matter that, while somewhat undefined as yet (“ideas”), was in tune with his personal concerns (“Aktualität”).
The open-endedness of this approach is interesting from two standpoints. For us, it is indicative of the novel and experimental nature of the artistic developments that were to find dissemination in the pages of dé-coll/age, while still lacking a defined identity. For Vostell, it was very effective from a tactical perspective in that, when those developments began to be classified with terms such as “Fluxus” or “Happening,” he would be free to integrate them into his magazine according to his own criteria. The bulletin would thus prove as flexible a device as the dé-coll/age principle itself, allowing Vostell to make the story of the formative years of action art his own. The first chapter of this story can be regarded, paraphrasing Bertrand Clavez, as the original sin that marked Fluxus before it was even born.
Fluxus’s Original Sin
dé-coll/age no. 1 was released in June 1962, just in time to be introduced to the public during an evening of musical theater entitled Neo-Dada in der Musik [Neo-Dada in Music]. Co-organized by Maciunas and Nam June Paik that same month at the Dusseldorf Chamber Theater, Neo-Dada in der Musik is today considered the second of two concerts that preceded the birth of Fluxus in Germany. Their pioneering role is attributable not only to the kind of stage experiments tried out in them, but also to the fact that both were linked to the presentation of Maciunas’s publishing project Fluxus. It is well known that Maciunas made a brochure available to the audiences there which provided an extraordinarily robust picture of his plans: it listed an editorial committee of twenty-six members from more than ten different countries, and it reported that each issue would be a bilingual edition (alternating languages between English, German, French, Japanese, and Russian); it even detailed the content of the first seven issues and announced the imminent publication of the first of them (fig. 2). The continuous delays suffered by this excessively ambitious plan are similarly well known, along with how its failure led, in turn, to the birth of what we now know as Fluxus. It was in fact the aim of promoting his yearbook that motivated Maciunas to organize festivals and concerts around Europe; they allowed him to offer his collaborators the opportunity to get to know each other’s work, meet and perform together, as well as to provide them a face with which to present themselves to public opinion—i.e., the name of the much-promised and much-postponed Fluxus yearbook. Consequently, long before the first issue finally saw the light of day in 1964, a transfer had occurred whereby Fluxus had also become Fluxus, the first international network of artists dedicated to action art and other practices related to intermedia art. This metamorphosis took place in September 1962 in Wiesbaden amid the first of the great Fluxus festivals organized by Maciunas, which was followed by a whole series of events in different European cities during a period of intense activity lasting until the end of 1963. While this was going on, the yearbook was beginning to look like a pipe dream; instead, however, Vostell published three issues of dé-coll/age in a row. He thus filled the editorial gap left by Maciunas, which raises the question of whether the Bulletin aktueller Ideen did not actually become the de facto magazine of Fluxus.
To answer this, we must return to the proto-Fluxus concert Neo-Dada in Der Musik. As already mentioned, Vostell’s first Bulletin of Current Thinking was shown at this event together with the Fluxus brochure. These two booklets share common elements, some of which were probably quite obvious to the audience. Both bear peculiar names that recall those of certain avant-garde movements or artistic techniques (i.e., Dada, Merz, collage, frottage), and both reproduce their respective dictionary definitions as self-explanatory devices. Certainly less obvious to the spectators, although evident to the artists involved, was the similarity of their contents or, as Dick Higgins put it, the fact that their “spheres of interest overlapped.” The seven fold-out sheets of dé-coll/age no. 1 were dedicated to a series of artists and works that formed part of the breeding ground from which the Neo-Dada in der Musik program emerged and from which Fluxus was to be born: instruction scores and texts by Benjamin Patterson, La Monte Young, Nam June Paik, and Maciunas himself, as well as Illustriertentexte by Arthur Køpcke and some of Vostell’s dé-coll/age—Verwischungen. With the exception of Vostell's, these were exactly the kind of action, intermedia, and conceptual artworks that Maciunas intended to publish, so conflict seemed inevitable. At first, however, Maciunas tried to keep things cordial and reach an understanding with his colleague. Barely a month after the presentation of dé-coll/age no. 1, he wrote to him regarding the preparations for the following issue:
I hear you are publishing [Carlheinz] Caspari’s piece in dé-coll/age. I thought of including it in Fluxus, but it is not good to duplicate. So I will not include it. Actually I think it would be simpliest [sic] to incorporate dé-coll/age in Fluxus and simplify many matters of duplication, especially since you are the editor of both: dé-coll/age and Fluxus ?????? How do you think?
“I didn’t want to have anything to do with that”—Vostell summarized. Although Maciunas had, as a matter of fact, included him among the editors of the "German section" of his magazine, he was not willing to give up his own endeavor, which by then had already begun to receive positive reactions and collaboration proposals, proving to be a marvelous tool by which to get out his name and assist him in building an international network of contacts. Thus, far from giving up on his editorial activity, Vostell then stepped up his preparations for a new issue that was notably more ambitious than the first.
Its publication was scheduled for October, but was delayed until December. Meanwhile, Vostell struggled to stay in the limelight by publishing a "special issue" that was originally intended as no. 1b, but which automatically became no. 2 when the next issue was released as no. 3. Printed in November 1962, dé-coll/age no. 2 is a good example of the pragmatism and speed which characterized Vostell's work, giving him a clear advantage over Maciunas. The issue was conceived as a supplement or libretto to “The Broadway Opera,” a theatrical performance by Higgins which the magazine organized at the Magnifying Glass Cinemas (Lichtspiele Die Lupe) in Cologne.
Its layout could not be simpler: with no cover and a photograph of Higgins at the entrance to the cinema as the front page, it includes a band around it bearing the name of the magazine; on the reverse side of the photograph, the performance's program is rendered as a table of contents, and the remaining pages are made up of the texts of the pieces announced, translated into German by Higgins himself. Added to this is what we might call an extended encore (his 1960 Symphoniae Sacrae) in its original English version. All of these sheets are copies of the originals typed by Higgins, which Vostell simply joined together with two basic staples, without altering them in the slightest: neither the format of the paper nor the numbering of the combined sheets was modified (those written in each language were grouped and numbered separately). Not even Higgins’s non-native German was proofread. This provides a good account of the haste with which Vostell worked, but it is also in step, as we shall see later, with his criteria when it came to design.
Finally, in December, dé-coll/age no. 3 appeared. Despite lacking the support of a publishing house that would cover expenses, Vostell did not hesitate to quintuple the content and double the print run with respect to the two previous issues, which shows the great expectations that had been placed on him. It was no wonder: his magazine’s pages offered an exclusive selection of the trailblazing artistic developments in which he and his counterparts were playing the leading role at that time in Europe. To this end, the range of materials included increased: along with the intermedia and action art pieces characteristic of dé-coll/age nos. 1 and 2, Vostell added theoretical essays and, above all, abundant documentation of events: concert programs and photographs, press reviews and other materials relating to Neo-Dada in Der Musik, the Wiesbaden festival, and an event organized afterward in Amsterdam, among others. All this was organized in keeping with the anthology approach of the first issue, that is, with an artist-ordered table of contents, offering a selection of names that, except in notable cases such as that of the German concrete poet Franz Mon, were mostly linked to Fluxus. Curiously, a special section was dedicated to this artists’ network, which appeared in the table of contents between F for Henry Flynt and H for Dick Higgins, as the only exception in its table of contents arranged by author.
Far from interpreting this detail as recognition of his promotional activity, George Maciunas viewed dé-coll/age no. 3 as a rival operation. He was not included in the table of contents, and his only mention was to be found in a press review reproduced in the Fluxus section. If this bothered him, Maciunas said nothing about it, perhaps consistent with his rejection of the cult of artistic individuality. Instead, Maciunas was up in arms because Vostell had printed some contributions that he had been readying for his still-unpublished Fluxus. Having explicitly dropped certain material so as not to step on Vostell’s toes, Maciunas now found that Vostell, far from returning the courtesy, was publishing two essays which he had also planned to publish. These two works were, respectively, “‘The Future of Music’: A collective Composition,” in which the Hungarian composer György Ligeti describes the course of a celebrated conference at which he remained silent for ten minutes observing the reactions of the audience; and “My New Concept of General Acognitive Culture,” in which the American philosopher and musician Henry Flynt presents his rejection of “Serious Culture” and proposes replacing it with a solipsistic and purely recreational “acognitive culture.” Both Ligeti and Flynt had informed Vostell that Maciunas intended to publish their texts. Their responses when these came out in dé-coll/age were very symptomatic of Vostell’s sneaky ways: Flynt found out from a third party, and Ligeti felt deceived because he had agreed to its inclusion in the bulletin provided that Maciunas granted his consent, a condition that, as demonstrated by an angry letter he subsequently received from the Lithuanian artist, proved not to have been met.
Maciunas’s reaction was immediate and represented a headlong flight towards his well-known attempt to keep the affairs of Fluxus under control: in a newsletter dated January 1, 1963, he tried to seduce his collaborators into granting him the exclusive rights to all of their respective works for life. His strategy was to promise to publish, in addition to the yearbook, special monographic collections dedicated to each of them, from which they would receive eighty percent of the proceeds. Maciunas argued that by taking shelter in this way under the umbrella of “© Fluxus,” each artist would obtain greater protection and, at the same time, would become part of a stronger “common front” capable of expanding its activities throughout the whole world. Moreover, and this he kept to himself, Maciunas would make sure that no matter what it took, no one would ever get ahead of him in publishing unpublished material.
Such monopolistic zeal helps us understand why the Lithuanian could not appreciate the inclusion of Fluxus in the table of contents of dé-coll/age no. 3. For him, Fluxus was not merely a part, but the whole: it could not just be one more among the authors like in dé-coll/age no. 3’s table of contents, but rather, the sum of all of them. In this sense, Vostell was not only competing unfairly, but also posed a real threat to Maciunas’s plans: he had appropriated the name Fluxus and had reduced it to just another chapter within a larger work, which was very different from Maciunas’s “common front” —namely, his own dé-coll/age principle.
The artists whom Maciunas wanted to represent, however, tended to see matters in a more straightforward way: “the magazine dé-coll/age was published and Fluxus was not.” How could they sign over their works to him, and only to him, if he never published what he promised? His plans were losing credibility as a result of his editorial inefficiency. In Germany, his confrontation with Vostell weakened his position, which had never been strong to begin with: Nam June Paik, his most powerful ally in the region, did not hesitate to side with Vostell, and Jean-Pierre Wilhelm, the gallery owner and art critic whose mediation had made possible the Neo-Dada in Der Musik concert along with the Wiesbaden festival, made sure Vostell would not be excluded from future events. As for the United States, Vostell had received letters of appreciation and gratitude for his editorial efforts: “Thanks very much for the issue of dé-coll/age no. 3 and the other brochures”—wrote Allan Kaprow—“I found them extremely interesting and have shown them to friends who also had the same reaction. I think your group (and Geo-Maciunas’) [sic] is the most alive in Europe.”
Kaprow’s words above offer a clear answer to the question that opened this section: Vostell’s bulletin had effectively become, on the strength of its first three issues, the magazine of Fluxus or, more specifically, the magazine of that “group”—to use Kaprow’s own term—which today we know as the early European Fluxus. dé-coll/age nos. 1 to 3 had published not only the kinds of action, intermedia, and conceptual works of art that Maciunas intended to publish, but also plentiful documentation relating to the early festivals, concerts, and other activities by Fluxus artists active in Europe. It thus served as an excellent letter of introduction to their American counterparts, not only for Vostell, but for the entire European “group.” In this scenario, Maciunas’s prestige as an editor and a representative of the artists was put into question or, at least, in parentheses—as in Kaprow's letter.
That being said, dé-coll/age no. 3 was at the same time the culmination and the end of a stage. Having burned his bridges with Maciunas, Vostell would soon pursue new alliances which would ultimately define a new trend in opposition to Fluxus, namely, that of the Happening. Before addressing how this new direction was to be reflected in dé-coll/age no. 4, it would be sensible to pause long enough to analyze the editorial design of the first three issues of the magazine, as it was precisely through this design that the German artist was able to make Fluxus and the other artistic developments in which he participated his own.
Toward an Archeology of Action Art
Probably the great editorial achievement of Vostell is that, in accordance with his ambition, he created a style consistent with his particular artistic theory and practice, which at the same time allowed him to present collective content in an effective and convincing way. The premise he employed to achieve this goal was clear: “allowing things to be authentic.” In a manner similar to what he did with torn posters, war photographs published in the press, and daily acts of destruction, he incorporated his colleagues’ pieces and compositions into his own work—in this case, the magazine—as if they were objets trouvés. From a design standpoint, this was easy to achieve: it was only necessary to downplay the typesetting and work with “facsimiles of the things that came directly from the artists, just as they were, blotches, corrections, things crossed out, imperfections and everything else.” This also had the advantage of saving a lot of time in terms of transcriptions, formatting, and corrections, as has already been seen with regard to dé-coll/age no. 2.
The consequence of this approach is a feeling of immediacy and closeness, which makes a virtue out of the messy and even dirty appearance of some materials and their layout. “The medium is the message” wrote Marshall McLuhan in those years, and dé-coll/age’s raw aesthetic would set the trend for future Neo-avant-garde editorial projects such as the influential Interfunktionen, published from 1968 to 1975. As its editor, Friedrich Wolfram Heubach would later explain, “What many have seen as the marked cheaply-produced look of the journal, that ‘aesthetic of the impoverished’ that found many adherents and imitators,” was a means to keep within its limited budget, but also the result of an aesthetic agenda intimately related to that of dé-coll/age:
[Interfunktionen’s] early issues reflected an attempt to design the journal in a way compatible with the new aesthetic agenda manifested in [its] contributions. The layout was what we then used to call ‘direct’—most of the material was facsimilied, using different papers suited to the originals, and sometimes original documents were even bound into an issue.
There is no doubt that this editorial approach stemmed directly from Vostell, who was co-editor of the first issue of Interfunktionen and had been the “middleman” who had brought Heubach into contact with the art scene in the first place.
Returning to dé-coll/age, I would argue that Vostell's strong editorial personality did not fully take shape until the third issue of the bulletin, when the “aesthetic of the impoverished” was complemented by a documentary approach. To the originals of his own pieces and those of his colleagues, he now added documents from festivals and other events for the first time. This inclusion was not only appropriate for the facsimile method and the editor's desire for “authenticity,” but it also enriched the magazine from various points of view, allowing him to delve deeper in his research on the dé-coll/age principle.
Firstly, the fact that, alongside the pieces, documents such as photographs or press reviews were reproduced depicting how said pieces had been performed at a given concert, meant that the emphasis on their composition was transferred to their realization, that is, accentuating their performative nature. dé-coll/age thus became a proper action art magazine, the first where new artistic practices were presented “in the midst of the reality” in which they took place. In this way, Vostell made it explicit that “current” artists had broken from the navel-gazing tendencies of the previous generation’s abstract art and were in dialogue with the world that surrounded them, reaching the fusion between art and life for which he advocated.
Secondly, stressing the performative aspect meant stressing the transitory element as well, a challenge that the German artist could not have taken on better. Let us recall that the dé-coll/age principle responded to his desire to reveal the essence of his time through the capture and amplified mimesis of its—in his mind—most representative processes (the destructive ones). And this is precisely what the documentary photographs of the concerts, or their descriptions in the contemporary reviews did: freeze processes and capture instants of fleeting events. dé-coll/age no. 3 can thus be viewed as a kind of archaeological site of ephemeral art, a platform on which the continuous and chaotic flow of events left its trail as it passed.
To convey the frenetic pace of current life (“Aktualität”) layered on its pages, Vostell utilized various devices of careful carelessness: the different sections announced in the table of contents appear on its pages randomly, without numbering and in defiance of the expected order, and often they lack a title that distinguishes them from the previous section; the heterogeneity of the facsimile reproductions is enhanced by the use of paper of differing qualities and by the mixture of fold-out sheets and other simple ones; in addition, the materials are mounted indifferently face up, face down or sideways, even when they occupy the same page. The result is a messy stratigraphy where the documents are intermingled without a resulting continuity and without further explanations. Such a silent avalanche of information demands interactive reading from the receiver: folding and unfolding, turning the magazine in one direction and another and, above all, deciphering, cramming in his/her head all those torn fragments of reality in order to attempt to confer a meaningful sense of unity upon them.
In short, with dé-coll/age no. 3, Vostell created an editorial design that, adopting his strategy of labelling all his undertakings, I would like to call “dé-coll/age design.” Its two most salient features are the raw reproduction of the original materials and the chaotic appearance sought by its layout. Both are fully in tune with the dé-coll/age principle which guided all of his work. And that is exactly where the cunning of Vostell as an editor lies: his aesthetic theory gave him the perfect alibi to publish documents in a seemingly unintentional way, as if they had fallen onto the pages of the magazine at random, as if no one had given them any order or premeditated meaning. His fascination with the sensationalist language of mass media and their visual saturation merged in his magazine with the underground halo of dirty, fast, and cheap reproductions. His knowledge in terms of layout did the rest, allowing him to pretend to take on the innocent stance of someone who limits himself to communicating ideas and facts. The extent to which this editorial design strategy lent itself to a biased portrayal of events became even more apparent with the next issue of dé-coll/age.
Happenings and Company
In the spring of 1963, a few months after the publication of dé-coll/age no. 3, Vostell traveled to New York for the first time, where he would have the opportunity to meet Allan Kaprow personally and collaborate with him in the framework of the Yam Festival. As a consequence of their meeting, Vostell decided to adopt the term “Happening” for his actions, which until then he had termed dé-coll/age-Demonstrationen or dé-coll/age-Ereignisse. He thus forged a new alliance with the declared intention of turning the Happening into an “international movement,” from which he emerged as the first European exponent, in tandem with his American counterpart. This marked the beginning of the Fluxus/Happening divide, which was reinforced a year later when Vostell returned to New York and earned recognition from his American colleagues with his dé-collage-Happening YOU, staged in an empty swimming pool, an orchard, and a tennis court on Long Island on April 19, 1964. This success can be viewed as a second victory for Vostell over Maciunas. His first victory had consolidated his centrality within the Fluxus network due to his publishing activity, whereas the second consolidated his preeminence over Fluxus owing to his ambitious manner of understanding action art. As analyzed by Medina: “YOU was a complex mimicry of war, fascisms, consumerism, and mass media of considerably more political and social relevance than any of the previous Happenings done by any of the New York artists […] and convinced people like Higgins that accumulation, collageism, and social allusion were more powerful performance modes than the raw simplicity and paradoxical character of Maciunas’s Fluxus.”
As pointed out in the introduction to this article, this sharp contrast between the Happening, as an overwhelming immersive experience, and what Higgins called the “Fluxtininess” promoted by Maciunas had not always existed, but rather, was defined in the time span between the birth of Fluxus in the summer of 1962, when Maciunas still included “Happenings” in his programs, and the staging of YOU in the spring of 1964. Again, the dé-coll/age magazine played a key role in this process, setting the direction in which Vostell sought to go. Published in January 1964, the fourth issue was conceived as a monograph on the Happening, something which toward the end of 1963 was surprising to people who, like the poet and artist Jackson Mac Low, did not understand the Happening as a general trend, but simply as Kaprow's particular brand of action art:
Please tell me more about the Happenings publication. Is this supposed to be inclusive of more than Allan Kaprow's work? I thought that “happenings” [sic] were just the works by him & maybe those by Robert Whitman. The rest of us call what we do “pieces” - “events” - “compositions” - “simultaneities” or “plays”. Do you include all of these in what you call “happenings”?? Please clarify. Perhaps you shd [sic] use some term that wd [sic] include both Allan “happenings” & the related “pieces”, “compositions”, “events”, “simultaneities”, “plays”. Neither La Monte, Higgins, Brecht, Patterson or me ever call our things “happening” even thus they share some characteristics with Allan's works. (Even Bob Whitman called his last thing a “theater piece”). Higgins tells me that this is a widespread confusion in Europe: that they even call things such as our plays & my simultaneities “happenings” over there. Maybe you can do something for doing away with this confusion. Happenings are Kaprow’s.
But Vostell had no intention of "doing away with this confusion." What he did instead was handle it with memorable skill, thanks to which he came up with a formula for presenting the different manifestations of this new art that was to crystallize shortly thereafter in a consequential book.
Between dé-coll/age no. 4 and his preceding work, there are two fundamental differences which illustrate Vostell's new positioning very well. On the one hand, if previously Fluxus was just another name in the table of contents, now “HAPPENINGS,” written in capital letters on the cover, lends the whole volume its title. On the other hand, it is true that, as in dé-coll/age no. 3, the sections on the different artists follow one another without any indication of where one ends and the next begins. The artists’ names are generally only noted in the captions of some photographs or in the corners of their respective pages. However, the new issue introduces three exceptions, devoting an exclusive introductory page to three of its authors: Allan Kaprow, Wolf Vostell, and Nam June Paik. This suggests a certain hierarchy of the magazine’s contents, which has the obvious consequence of emphasizing Vostell’s own relevance as the first European Happening artist.
Moreover, Nam June Paik’s section alerts us to the confusion noted by Mac Low, which is eye-catching even from today's perspective, when the Happening has been widely acknowledged as a performance mode not only limited to Kaprow’s actions. According to the current taxonomy of the artistic categories of those years, the materials published about Paik should not be labeled as Happenings, since they document above all his pioneering video art exhibition. There is something similar at work with some other materials included in the issue, such as the photographs that show the German artist Tomas Schmit performing two of his typical Fluxus compositions. This mixture makes clear Vostell’s desire to appropriate the artistic experimentation of the moment through whatever prism he found most suitable—in this case that of the Happening. The theoretical texts included in the volume subtly close the deal.
These are critical writings and essays by different authors who, in one way or another, take on the difficult task of defining the Happening and its relationship with other contemporary artistic practices. The main conclusion that can be drawn in retrospect is that there were two altogether different usages of the term in circulation. There was Kaprow’s definition, which described the Happening as an open-ended but specific artistic genre, “one type of theater of the present,” the outcome of “an assemblage of events, which also includes people as part of the whole.” Alongside this, there was also a widespread generic use of the term among authors as different as the aforementioned Tomas Schmit and the Spanish composer Ramón Barce, co-founder of the Zaj group in Madrid. For them, the word “happening” simply referred to “events that just occur” and expressed an interest in the phenomena of the reality common in varying degrees to many of the new trends: not just to Kaprow, Vostell, and Fluxus, but even to Pop Art and Nouveau Réalisme.
Vostell's shrewdness in dealing with this dichotomy consisted in not even considering the need to choose between one vision of the Happening and another. Quite the contrary, dé-coll/age no. 4 makes use of both indistinctly, presenting them both as specific forms of action art clearly distinct from other related artistic practices, and, at the same time, as relating to them all. This twofold approach obviously gave preeminence to the Happening over other related practices and was to provide the structural backbone for the artist’s next editorial work, a book conveniently entitled HAPPENINGS: Fluxus, Pop Art, Nouveau Réalisme. Eine Dokumentation, published in 1965 in collaboration with the German poet Jürgen Becker. The publication inherits the bulletin’s documentary approach, but differs in that, among other things, it replaces the author-ordered table of contents with a thematic one in which each section corresponds to one of the four artistic currents listed in its title. In this sense, the latter must be understood as the sum of its parts: “Happenings + Fluxus + Pop Art + Nouveau Réalisme.” Most intriguingly, according to Vostell and Becker's editorial note, the result of this additive operation is equivalent to only one of its parts—the Happening, needless to say.
Acting thus as both judge and jury, Vostell was going to reap remarkable success with his gamble. As mentioned above, it was by glancing over his book that Harald Szeemann conceived the idea of holding the first major retrospective exhibition dedicated to action art. Happening & Fluxus took as its starting point the documentary collection that the German doctor Hanns Sohm had assembled precisely at Vostell's suggestion, and also included both men in its curatorial team. The exhibition was accompanied by a book that can be considered the first sourcebook on Action Art: Happening & Fluxus. Materialien, edited by Szeemann and Sohm (fig. 1). Within its contents, there is a peculiar mix of Vostellian design criteria and the minimum requirements of a reference book. On the one hand, when it comes to the reproduction of documents, the editors sacrificed legibility and clarity in favor of authenticity and immediacy, always opting for facsimiles, sometimes printed at an excessively small scale and superimposed onto a layout that highlights the abundance and variety of material. Furthermore, the anthology lacks such rudimentary tools as a table of contents or page numbers, and explicitly rejects “explanatory texts”. However, it subjects the barrage of information to two data management tools: a chronology that serves as the backbone of the first part of the volume, and a bibliography organized alphabetically by author that organizes the second part. Halfway between an artist’s book and a reference text, Happening & Fluxus. Materialien thus represents a first archival cataloging, laying the foundations for future research relating not only to Fluxus and the Happening, but, in general, to the diverse forms of action art developed in Europe on both sides of the so-called “Iron Curtain,” as well as in the United States and Japan from 1959 to 1970.
This inclusive and unfiltered approach has the same paradoxical consequence as Vostell's editorial design strategies: in their eagerness to let the documents speak for themselves, Szeemann and Sohm inadvertently prioritize certain contents because of their indistinct presentation of data relating to such dissimilar artistic manifestations as the Viennese Actionists or the Spanish group Zaj, both encompassed under the misleading title of Happening & Fluxus (in this sense, Fluxus did not fare as badly as some others, which did not even receive mention in the introductory text to the book). Obviously, the ambiguity of the Happening & Fluxus binomial is directly related to Vostell’s positioning strategies. As in the title of his book with Becker, here the “&” sign does not represent, as it might appear, a mere joining of equivalent terms, but rather gives pre-eminence to the first over the second. In case there is any doubt, two other documents confirm this thesis. Firstly, the brochure that accompanied the exhibition includes three texts which all give clear priority to the Happening: Szeemann recognizes that his initial intention had been to document only the Happening; Friedrich Wolfram Heubach, for his part, strives to elaborate a theoretical framework for the Happening, presenting Fluxus as a radical and extreme form of it; and Michael Kirby addresses “happenings” and “events,” without ever mentioning the word “Fluxus.” Secondly, when the book Happening & Fluxus. Materialien was reissued on the occasion of the exhibition touring to a second venue, the word “Fluxus” disappeared from its title, which was now: Happening. Die Geschichte einer Bewegung. Materialien [Happening. The History of a Movement. Materials].
Fluxus’s response wasn’t long in coming. In 1972, celebrating the anniversary of its birth, David Mayor, Ken Friedman, and Mike Weaver organized the exhibition FLUXshoe in England, an artist-operated initiative, which was openly critical of the documentary approach of Szeemann's exhibit. In connection with FLUXshoe, the British magazine Art and Artists published a monographic issue eloquently entitled Free Fluxus Now, in which a selection of artists were able to take stock and present their personal vision of Fluxus. It was here that Schmit published his infamous comment about the carp and the duck, and where Maciunas reissued his 1966 Expanded Arts Diagram, in which he made clear the distance, in his view insurmountable, between the concretism of a “monomorphic neo-haiku flux-event” and the expressionistic “mixed-media neo-baroque happening.” However, despite the opposition of the artists to the pairing “Happening & Fluxus,” this nomenclature would be repeated for years in numerous exhibitions and publications.
Going back to the editorial seed of all this activity, the Bulletin of Current Thinking, it had now effectively become the Bulletin of the Fluxus and Happening Avant-garde (Bulletin der fluxus und happening avantgarde), as the modified subtitle of its sixth issue from July 1967 indicates. Here, Vostell returned to his usual documentary assemblage mode, using torn fragments from the present day. He superimposed material from the Destruction in Art Symposium (DIAS, of whose Honorary Committee he was a member); Fluxus concerts by Dick Higgins; book-installations by Alison Knowles; Happenings scores by Kaprow; along with other contributions by similar artists. In this way, he kept his readers up to date on the latest developments both in his own work and that of his contemporaries, now no longer worrying about justifying their adherence to one trend or another. In this respect we can regard dé-coll/age no. 6 as the issue that recapitulates the two great stages of its history (Fluxus and Happening), further rounding it off with a reminder of where it all began, at least for Vostell. In fact, the issue contains a documentary appendix relating to the pre-Fluxus scene in Cologne in 1960-1962, with information on the activities then organized by the Atelier Bauermeister, the Galerie Haro Lauhus, and Vostell himself—including a reference to the first issue of his magazine. In this sense, it can be said that, with its sixth edition, the magazine dé-coll/age managed to outline how its own historical role was to be assessed.
Intermezzo and Coda
Having nearly reached the end of our journey, conclusions are pressing. However, we still must listen to the intermezzo of dé-coll/age no. 5 and the coda of no. 7. Both examples adhere roughly to the editorial criteria that have already been analyzed. However, they also present certain peculiarities that isolate them slightly and differently with respect to the flow of collective events so far considered. Despite working with a publishing house, Vostell decided in both cases to reduce the print run to 500 copies, thus making them rather exclusive editions. This is accentuated by the fact that they are made with more care than previous issues: in neither case does the publisher use the staples that, hidden or not behind covers, were Vostell’s customary method of joining the magazine’s pages. Instead, dé-coll/age no. 7 is carefully bound, following the usual format of a book or magazine. dé-coll/age no. 5, on the other hand, simply does not pose these problems because it adheres to the frequent practice in the alternative publishing of that era of loosely collating pages within a box.
As far as content is concerned, the fifth bulletin (February 1966) abandons the archaeological character of the issues that preceded and followed it and takes up once more the approach of the first, collecting only scores, poems, and other intermedia pieces. It is evident that this type of work also has a documentary value that can be emphasized, for example, by highlighting the Solo – Décollage Piece [for Wolf Vostell] (1961) by Benjamin Patterson, performed by Vostell at the Galerie Haro Lauhus in 1961. Apart from this, dé-coll/age no. 5 does not stress so much the performative nature of the included pieces as their conceptual qualities and even—and therein lies their particularity—their objecthood. Although it also resorts to the facsimile method, the originals reproduced are flawless and printed onto cardboard (and translucent paper when required); some of them also play with the very materiality of the cardboard for their composition, while others attach objects to it, as is the case with the chocolate bar from Joseph Beuys' contribution. In short, dé-coll/age no. 5 belongs to the world of multiples, one of the novelties of that experimental period, which offered an affordable alternative to the art market, and raised an interesting point of friction between editorial and artistic production.
For its part, dé-coll/age no. 7 (February 1969) returns to the testimonial approach and emphasis on process so present in the main line of the magazine. However, it replaces the disorganized stratigraphy of the previous issues with a clarity deriving from the very fact that it is a volume dedicated to a single work. It documents the creation of the ELECTRONIC dé-coll/age HAPPENING SPACE (ELEKTRONISCHER dé-coll/age HAPPENING RAUM, 1959-1968), an environment created by Vostell at the invitation of the Institute of Modern Art in Nuremberg and exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1968. Although incorporating printed administrative papers such as the invoice for the insurance paid by the Biennale, the bulk of the material in this edition comprises Vostell’s sketches and numerous photographs of the assembly process and the final appearance of the work. All this is complemented by an essay by Friedrich Wolfram Heubach, reproduced according to the characteristic criteria of what I have termed “dé-coll/age design,” with his hand-made deletions and corrections on the typed original.
Now it is time for the landing, and to conclude this analysis of the Bulletin of Current Thinking. Born amid the feverish artistic experimentation that ushered in the 1960s in Germany, dé-coll/age spanned almost the entire decade with its seven issues, becoming both an active participant in and an irreplaceable testimony to a significant portion of the developments in the field of action art (Fluxus and the Happening) and its connections with other related practices and trends (such as concrete poetry, video art, and Nouveau Réalisme). Its history simultaneously reflects the alliances and enmities that gave shape to the various contexts of action art, along with the difficulties faced by its exponents in terms of delimiting and naming their different modes of performance. As its title, dé-coll/age, indicates, its editor’s stake in each of the issues was absolutely personal; and its editorial design proves this as well, as it gave rise to an aesthetic all its own that spread to other initiatives and ended up becoming the editorial lingua franca of ephemeral art.
For more images referenced in this text, please consult:
Henar Rivière is Research Fellow at Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and leads the Research Project «Active Archives. Underground Institutions» at Archivo Lafuente, Santander (Spain). She holds a Ph.D. in Art History and specialises in artist’s networks (Fluxus and Mail Art), and new artistic practices and hybrid media from the end of the 1950s onwards, especially focusing on performance, sound art and experimental writing. She has been awarded postdoctoral and postgraduate scholarships and contracts at the Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, USA), the Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha (Spain), and the Freie Universität Berlin (DAAD), among others. She has curated exhibitions such as FLUXUS ABC at Galerie Krinzinger (Vienna, 2019–2020) and TLALAATALA: José Luis Castillejo and Modern Writing (MUSAC, León & CAAC, Sevilla, Spain, 2018), and was co-curator of ‘The lunatics are on the loose…’ EUROPEAN FLUXUS FESTIVALS 1962–1977 (Akademie der Künste, Berlin; Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen; MOCAK, Krakow; Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius; Staatsgalerie Stuttgart; National Gallery, Prague).
 Tomas Schmit, “If I remember rightly,” Art and Artists 7, no. 7, issue 79 (October 1972): 39. This text was originally written for the catalogue of the exhibition Happening & Fluxus, but it was not published there.
 See the program of the first Fluxus Festival (Wiesbaden, 1962), both in its final and tentative versions: George Maciunas, Fluxus - Internationale Festspiele Neuester Musik (prior to September, 1962) reproduced in Hanns Sohm and Harald Szeemann, eds., Happening & Fluxus. Materialien (Cologne, Kölnischer Kunstverein, 1970), n.p.; George Maciunas, Tentative Programme for the Festival of New Music (prior to January 1962) and Tentative Programme for the Festival of Very New Music (April 28, 1962) (both at the Getty Research Institute, Jean Brown Papers). See: Jon Hendricks, ed., Fluxus etc. The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection: Addenda I (New York: Ink &, 1983), 139-153.
 This explanation by Restany is a late version, smoothed by the passage of time, of what was certainly a more bitter controversy between Vostell and the Nouveaux Réalistes regarding the meaning of the word “décollage” and who used it first. See: Pierre Restany, [“La vie est belle, n’est-ce pas, cher Vostell?”], in Vostell, ed. Jean-Pierre Lavignes (Paris: Editions Lavignes-Bastille, 1990), n.p.; François Dufrêne: “Die Unterseiten (Flashes-back),” in Dufrêne, Hains, Rotella, Villeglé, Vostell, n.p.; and Michael Koehler, “Anmerkungen zur frühen Karriere des Begriffs «Décollage»,” in Über Reinhold Koehler. Essays & Rezenssionen. 1957-2004, ed. Angela Koehler and Michael Koehler (Bönen, Druckverlag Kettler, 2009), 9-17.
 See, for instance: Vostell, “dé-coll/age,” n.p.; and Wolf Vostell, “Gespräch mit Wolf Vostell,” interview with Jürgen Schilling, in Wolf Vostell. dé-coll/agen, Verwischungne, Schichtenbilder, Bleibilder, Objektbilder 1955-1979, ed. Jürgen Schilling (Braunschweig: Waisenhaus-Buchdruckerei und Verlag, 1980), 10.
 Translation from the German my own: Vostell, “Gespräch mit Wolf Vostell,” 10. This story by Vostell was contested by Dufrêne, who maintained that Vostell had found the Le Figaro headline only in 1960. As evidence, Dufrêne quoted a letter that Vostell had addressed to him in 1961, claiming that he (Vostell) had been employing the word “décollage” “for a year already,” i.e., since 1960 (thus not 1954). See: Dufrêne: “Die Unterseiten (Flashes-back),” n.p.
 The book by Cassandre (Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron’s pseudonym) was titled precisely Le spectacle est dans la rue. In the preface, Blaise Cendrars praised him as not only a painter, but “surtout un des plus fervents animateurs de la vie moderne: le premier metteur en scène de la rue” [emphasis in original]. Vostell interpreted this analogy of the street with a stage as a call to action. See: Blaise Cendrars, “La rue,” in Le spectacle est dans la rue (Montrouge, 1935), n.p.; and Vostell, “dé-coll/age,” n.p.
 See: Wolf Vostell, “An Interview with Wolf Vostell,” interview with Sarenco and Gino di Maggio, Lotta Poetica 1, no. 9 (October 1982): 9; Josefa Cortés Morillo, “Obra gráfica de Wolf Vostell (1959-1979),” NORBA Revista de Arte 22-23 (2002-2003): 247; and Karsten Arnold, “Wolf Vostell auf Straßen und Plätzen… durch die Galerien,” sediment. Mitteilungen zur Geschichte des Kunsthandels 14 (2007): 12.
 Benjamin Patterson, “I’m Glad You Asked Me That Question” (1990-1991), in Benjamin Patterson: Born in the State of FLUX/us, ed. Valerie Cassel Oliver (Houston: Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2012), 111. This self-authored interview was first published in German: “Ich bin froh, daß Sie mir diese Frage gestellt haben” [trans. Elvira Christian], Kunstforum International 115 (September-October 1991): Fluxus—Ein Nachruf zu Lebzeiten, ed. Dieter Daniels: 166-177.
 See: Historisches Archiv der Stadt Köln, ed., Das Atelier Mary Bauermeister in Köln 1960-1962. Intermedial, kontrovers, experimentell (Cologne: Emons, 1993); Wilfried Dörstel, Rainer Steinberg and Robert von Zahn, “Das Atelier Bauermeister: Proto-Fluxus in Köln 1960-1962,” in Fluxus Virus. 1962-1992, ed. Christel Schüppenhauer (Cologne: Galerie Schüppenhauer, 1992), 48-55; and Henar Rivière, “Fluxus: The Birth of an International Artist Network or the Avant-Garde that Never took (a) Place,” in El arca de Babel. Teoría y práctica artísticas en el escenario transcultural / The Ark of Babel. Artistic Theory and Practice in a Transcultural Perspective, ed. Eva Fernández del Campo and Henar Rivière (Madrid: Abada, 2013), 297-317.
 To my knowledge, there is no literal translation for the words “aktuell” and “Aktualität” into English. “Aktuell” means “current,” “topical,” and it is a word used in the German media to refer to breaking news. But there is also a somehow more abstract meaning to it, especially in the noun “Aktualität,” which refers in a broader sense to the reality in which we are immersed. Thus, in line with Vostell’s aesthetics, “Aktualität” could also be translated as “presentness.”
 The first was the Kleines Sommerfest: Après John Cage [“Little Summer Festival: Après John Cage”], co-organized by Maciunas and Benjamin Patterson thanks to Nam June Paik’s mediation in the Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal. For more details on both concerts see: Henar Rivière, "Kleines Sommerfest: Après John Cage,” in “The Lunatics are on the Loose...”: European Fluxus Festivals 1962-1977, ed. Petra Stegmann (Potsdam: Down with Art! Verlag, 2012), 15-26; and Henar Rivière, “Neo-Dada in der Musik,” in European Fluxus Festivals, ed. Stegmann, 27-40.
 George Maciunas, Fluxus (Brochure Prospectus for Fluxus Yearboxes) (1962), a facsimile edition can be found in Stationen der Moderne. Katalog epochaler Kunstausstellungen in Deutschland 1910-1962, ed. Eberhard Roters (Cologne: König, 1988), n.p. For evidence of the presence of the Fluxus brochure and other documents designed by Maciunas at the Kleines Sommerfest, see: Photographs from the Kleines Sommerfest, attributed to Rolf and Anneliese Jährling (Zentralarchiv für deutsche und internationale Kunstmarktforschung ZADIK, Collection Galerie Parnass).
 As an example of the backdating to which Vostell was inclined, it should be mentioned that in an interview he claimed to have already presented his magazine at the Kleines Sommerfest, at which he was actually only present as a member of the audience. In temporal terms, this does not represent a great difference, since there was only a week between one concert and the other (they were respectively held on June 9 and 16). However, Vostell's backdating is relevant as proof of his tendency to give himself preeminence at the expense of Maciunas, whom in the same interview he did not even mention as an organizer of the event. See: Wolf Vostell, “An Interview with Wolf Vostell,” 4. This passage from the interview was included in a well-known book on Maciunas edited by Emmett Williams and Ann Noël, and some scholars have followed its false trail. See: Emmett Williams and Ann Nöel, eds., Mr. Fluxus: A Collective Portrait of George Maciunas (1931-1978) (London: Thames & Hudson, 1997), 61; and Arnold, “Wolf Vostell auf Straßen und Plätzen…,” 16. As for the exhibition of the artists’ printed materials in the initial Fluxus concerts, it must have been a common practice. A letter from the writer Dieter Hülsmanns confirms that dé-coll/age no. 1 was on public display at Neo-Dada in der Musik, which suggests that Maciunas’s brochure was also on display, as it had already been at the Kleines Sommerfest. This is corroborated by the introductory conference to the Festum Fluxorum Fluxus held in Dusseldorf in 1963, where the gallery owner and art critic Jean-Pierre Wilhelm alluded to the “dé-coll/age magazine. It is very interesting textually and iconographically, and it is displayed here, like the Fluxus-documents, in a showcase” (translation from the German my own). See: Dieter Hülsmanns, letter to Wolf Vostell, June 29, 1962 (Museo Vostell Malpartida, Archivo Happening Vostell); and Jean-Pierre Wilhelm, “[Meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren],” January 1963, eight-page document, reproduced in Susanne Rennert, Sylvia Martin, and Erika Wilton, eds., “Le hasard fait bien les choses”: Jean-Pierre Wilhelm, Informel, Fluxus und die Galerie 22 / Jean-Pierre Wilhelm, Informel, Fluxus and Galerie 22 (Cologne, König, 2013), 207.
 Dick Higgins, “Auszug aus Postface” (1963-1965) [trans. Eckart Rahn], in Happenings: Fluxus, Pop Art, Nouveau Réalisme. Eine Dokumentation, eds. Wolf Vostell and Jürgen Becker (Reinbeck bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1965), 181. This text by Higgins is not just an “excerpt” [“Auszug”] of Higgins’s essay Postface, but a modified and expanded version prepared for Vostell's book. As will be seen below, Vostell employed this book to position himself strategically vis-à-vis Maciunas and Fluxus. In this context, the changes to Higgins' essay are not incidental: the passage dedicated to Vostell and his bulletin is much longer and less conciliatory regarding his conflict with Maciunas than in the first version. A third version exists in English: Dick Higgins, “Postface” (1963-1965, 1970), in The Word and Beyond: Cosmologists of the Word, ed. Anne Conover Heller (New York: The Smith, 1982), 7-96 (quote on page 65).
 Many of these works belong to what we consider today as Fluxus’s typical repertoire: several Piano Pieces (1960) and Compositions 1960# (1960) by Young, a Danger Music for Dick Higgins from Do it yourself (Antworten an La Monte Young) (1962-1962) by Paik, pages from Patterson’s book Methods & Processes (Paris, 1962) as well as 12 Piano Compositions for Nam June Paik (1962) and several Solos (Solo for Sick Man, Solo for Violin, and Solo for Balloons, all from 1962 by Maciunas.
 Vostell was in fact compiling materials in the name of Fluxus. See: Arthur Køpcke, typewritten letter to Wolf Vostell, July 1962 (Archivo Happening Vostell, Museo Vostell Malpartida). Also, see: Maciunas, Fluxus (Brochure Prospectus for Fluxus Yearboxes), n.p.
 Higgins claimed that it was thanks to dé-coll/age that the American exponents of Action Art came into contact with Vostell (Higgins, “Auszug aus Postface,” (1963-1965), 181; and Higgins, “Postface” (1963-1965, 1970), 65). The German artist's correspondence preserved in the Happening Archive Vostell confirms that the magazine played a fundamental role in linking him to the international art scene.
 The event in Amsterdam took place in an art gallery (Kunsthandel Monet) as the opening of an exhibition by Vostell. He himself was the organizer, with the collaboration of Paik. It was entitled Parallele Aufführungen neuester Musik [Parallel Performances of New Music]. dé-coll/age no. 3 also included documentation of various initiatives by Vostell, and preliminary texts and photographs of what was to be the historic pioneering video art exhibition Exposition of Music – Electronic Television, which Nam June Paik was preparing for the Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal (March 1963). See: Peter van der Meijden, "Parallele Aufführungen neuester Musik,” in European Fluxus Festivals, 93-108; and Susanne Neuburger, "Terrific Exhibit. «Zeit-Kunst» alias Musik im Ausstellungsgenre,” in Exposition of Music – Electronic Television, ed. Susanne Neuburger (Cologne: König, 2009), 11-23. On the Wiesbaden's Festival see: Rivière, "Fluxus - Internationale Festspiele Neuester Musik,” 49-92.
 See for instance: George Maciunas, letter to Robert Watts, 1963, reproduced in Fluxus etc. The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection: Addenda II, 149-50; also partially published in Mr. Fluxus, 61-62.
 Flynt, on the contrary, never worried about Maciunas's permission or anger. When he sent his essay to Vostell, he merely informed him that, “Presumably [it] is going to be published in Fluxus.” When he later learned of the inclusion of his work in dé-coll/age no. 3, rather than getting angry, he proposed publishing “the whole book, to which the essay was a preliminary.” See: Henry Flynt, letter to Wolf Vostell, ND  (Museo Vostell Malpartida, Archivo Happening Vostell) and letter to Wolf Vostell, December 24, 1962 (Getty Research Institute, Jean Brown Papers, photocopy). Also see: György Ligeti, two letters to Wolf Vostell, September 4 and December 12, 1962, respectively (Museo Vostell Malpartida, Archivo Happening Vostell).
 See: George Maciunas, Fluxus News Letter no. 5, January 1, 1963, reproduced in Fluxus etc., 155. One of the arguments used by Maciunas against Vostell's editorial practices was that they did not record the artists’ copyrights, something that indeed raised some protests, for example, from Dick Higgins and the German photographer Manfred Leve, author of some of the documentary photographs published in dé-coll/age no. 3. Copyright issues would also recur in later issues of the bulletin, for example, with regard to the reprinting of materials originally published by La Monte Young in An Anthology (New York, 1963). See: Dick Higgins, letter to Wolf Vostell, ND [late 1962/early 1963]; Manfred Leve, letter to Wolf Vostell, December 23, 1962; and Nam June Paik, letter to Wolf Vostell, ND  (all at Museo Vostell Malpartida, Archivo Happening Vostell).
 “Vostell erkannte zuerst die beiden Punkte, in denen er sich wesentlich von Maciunas unterschied. Erstens: Maciunas liebte es, kleine Dinge zu besitzen, kleine Dinge zu tun und Besprechungen zu machen; aber es fehlte ihm jegliches Verantwortungsgefühl dem Künstler oder dem Publikum gegenüber. Zweitens erschien die dé-coll/age, das Fluxus-Magazin dagegen nicht.” Higgins, “Auszug aus Postface” (1963-1965), 181. In the last version of Higgins’ essay, this passage is slightly different: “Maciunas was satisfied to have conceived of the magazine [Fluxus]. For Vostell, as long as the word is with God, God is a swine for not allowing it to décollage [sic] itself into the earth. Vostell perceived these two differences.” Higgins, “Postface” (1963-1965, 1970), 65-66.
 Wilhelm also played an important role in the organization of the Festum Fluxorum Fluxus in Düsseldorf (1963). It was thanks to his mediation that Joseph Beuys, who coordinated the event with Maciunas, counted on Vostell to help with the organization and to participate, despite the confrontation between the two. See: Nam June Paik, letter to George Maciunas, January 15, 1963 (Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Archiv Sohm); Jean-Pierre Wilhelm, letter to Wolf Vostell, January 20, 1963 (Museo Vostell Malpartida, Archivo Happening Vostell); and Joseph Beuys, two letters to Wolf Vostell, January 18 and 20, 1963, respectively (Museo Vostell Malpartida, Archivo Happening Vostell).
 “By the way,” Kaprow added at the end of this letter, “does George Maciunas ever expect to really issue his magazine Fluxus?” Allan Kaprow, letter to Wolf Vostell, January 4, 1963 (Museo Vostell Malpartida, Archivo Happening Vostell).
 Heubach stressed Vostell’s role with the following statement: “While studying in Cologne (from 1965) I was introduced by mutual friends to Wolf Vostell, thanks to whom I soon became closely involved with what then figured as the ‘avant-garde’.” And further: “The fact that Vostell introduced me to artists such as Mauricio Kagel, Joseph Beuys, Nam June Paik, Jörg Immendorff, Dick Higgins, Emmett Williams, Dieter Roth and Tomas Schmit illustrates the special role he played as a middleman and organiser in the art scene of the period. No matter how one judges his art, Vostell undeniably deserves credit for his tireless initiative in bringing the most diverse artists into contact with each other, and for frequently giving their works its first public airing (e.g. as editor of the journal dé-coll/age and initiator of various festivals), and by so doing he contributed quite essentially to the special place which current activities in art then had in Cologne.” Heubach, “Interfunktionen, 1968-1975,” 46 and 58-59.
 Wolf Vostell and Jürgen Becker, [“Dieses Buch…”], in Happenings: Fluxus, Pop Art, Nouveau Réalisme. Eine Dokumentation, n.p. (inside of back cover). The Gutai group had published the Gutai journal in Japan as early as 1955. It documented the new artistic practices developed by the group through outdoor exhibitions, exhibitions on stage, and exhibitions in the sky. However, its layout was not particularly innovative and did not create a new editorial aesthetic correlated to the group’s new artistic approaches. dé-coll/age can thus be seen as the first proper Action Art magazine in terms of editorial design. See: Chinatsu Kuma, ed., Gutaï. [Facsimile edition] (Tokyo : Geikashoin, 2010).
 "Ereignis" can be translated into English as both "event" and "happening." In Vostell's bibliography, it is frequent to find his actions before the encounter with Kaprow termed Happenings, but the application of this term is retroactive. See, for instance: Das Theater ist auf der Straße. Die Happenings von Wolf Vostell / The theater is on the street. Die Happenings von Wolf Vostell, eds. Markus Heinzelmann, Fritz Emslander and José Antonio Agúndez (Bielefeld; Leipzig; Berlin: Kerber Verlag, 2010).
 Medina, “The "Kulturbolschewiken" I”: 185. Higgins put it this way: “[YOU’s] success led to a realization among many of us that large work was now necessary, nay, imperative, to destroy the effect of Fluxfussiness, Fluxtininess and Fluxabsurdity. In Fluxus the tendency had been growing increasingly Yam-like even at the Carnegie Hall concert in June, which brought the American festival to its climax, and was its sunset. ‘Now this person does his little thing, now that person does his little thing, now another little thing’. That last Fluxus concert gave the effect of looking at somebody’s postcard collection.” Higgins, “Postface” (1963-1965, 1970), 85; passage published in German in Higgins, “Auszug aus Postface” (1963-1965), 191-192.
 Other artists included in the issue are: George Brecht, Bazon Brock, Stanley Brouwn, H. J. Dietrich, Al Hansen, Dick Higgins, Jean-Jacques Lebel, Claes Oldenburg, Robin Page, and Frank Trowbridge.
 [Translation from Spanish my own]: Ramón Barce quoting Jean-Pierre Wilhelm from a conference printed in dé-coll/age no. 3. See: Ramón Barce, “Hacia cero. Música ‘abierta’. Del sonido al rito,” dé-coll/age no. 4, (January 1964): Happenings, n.p. Barce's article was first printed in the Spanish Journal Indice and is a good example of the effectiveness that dé-coll/age had as a tool of dissemination, since it offers an interesting theoretical effort on action art and music based on the materials published in dé-coll/age no. 3. See: Ramón Barce, “Hacia cero. Música ‘abierta’. Del sonido al rito,” Indice 175-176 (July-August, 1963): 22-23. Vostell also reprinted it in: Vostell and Becker, Happenings, 142-150.
 “Happenings, die amerikanischer Herkunft und in Deutschland zuerst von Wolf Vostell praktiziert worden sind, werden in diesem Buch gewissermaßen thematisch begriffen. Denn sie erklären den hier ausgestellten Künsten ihre Tendenz zum Ereignis; sie bringen selber zur direkten Aktion, was im Nouveau Réalisme und in der Pop Art im Bild noch verharrt, was in den Fluxus-Veranstaltungen nur bedingt aufgeführt worden ist. So stiftet der Begriff des Happenings den Zusammenhang dieses Buches.” Wolf and Becker, [“Dieses Buch…”].
 Sohm got in touch with Vostell through the dé-coll/age bulletin and started to "systematically document all new forms of Action Art" per his advice. See: Thomas Kellein, “Fröhliche Wissenschaft”. Das Archiv Sohm (Stuttgart: Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, 1986), 10.
 “Auf interpretierende texte wurde bewusst zugunsten der Originalarbeiten der Künstler verzichtet”. Harald Szeemann and Hanns Sohm, [“dieses buch erscheint anstelle eines ausstellungskataloges”] [sic], in Happening & Fluxus. Materialien, n./p.
 Regarding the chronology, it has to be noted that Vostell’s and Becker’s book also included a “Zeittafel.” That such a data management tool could also be used in a biased way becomes apparent in a letter from Nam June Paik to Vostell, where he mentions the criticism that “Zeittafel” was met with: “…es ist sehr ‘tricky’ und delikat jetzt [eine] sogenannte Datentabelle [zu] publizieren, weil alles noch im Fluss ist, und in [der] heutigen sehr politischen Situation keine objetive Zeittafel erzielt werden kann.” Nam June Paik, letter to Wolf Vostell, ND , printed in dé-coll/age no. 6 (July 1967), n.p. See: “Zeittafel,” 33-60.
 In response to this situation, the Zaj group, for instance, sent a photograph with all its members with their backs to the camera and the text "we are not interested in this exhibition" for its section in the bibliography. See: "Zaj,” in Happening & Fluxus, n./p.
 See: Harald Szeemman, “Zur Ausstellung”; Friedrich Wolfram Heubach, “Zu Happening und Fluxus”; and Michael Kirby, “The Influences of Happenings and Events,” in [Klein Katalog zur Ausstellung], n.p.
 George Maciunas, “Expanded Arts Diagram” (1966): 23. Not all the contributors to the monograph shared this opinion. Significantly, Higgins stated in his text that Fluxus's works were “[e]ssentially […] Happenings which, because of their Minimal Art quality, are usually described as Events.” Dick Higgins, “Something Else about Fluxus,” Art and Artists, 17.
 To cite but a few: Flugasche. Literaturzeitschrift 6, no. 18 (July 1986): Mixed Media: Happening, Fluxus, Konkrete Poesie (Stuttgart); Charles Dreyfus, ed., Happening & Fluxus (Paris: Galerie 1900-2000 & Galerie du Genie & Galerie de Poche, 1989); Moisés Bazán de Huerta, dir., Happening, Fluxus y otros comportamientos artísticos de la segunda mitad del siglo XX (Mérida, Spain: Editoria Regional de Extremadura, 2001); and Olivier Lussac, Happening & fluxus. Polyexpressivité et pratique concrète des arts (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2004).