Ei Arakawa (b. 1977)
Grand Openings (no date)
The Fluxus Happenings – and the Gutai Group that preceded them – are an important precedent. In 1962 and 1963, the artists Robert Watts and George Brecht staged the Yam Festival, which celebrated the open-ended potential of simultaneous action: different artists performed different actions in different parts of a room, all at the same time. In a similar spirit, Arakawa created “Grand Openings”, a collaboration with the artists Emily Sundblad, Jutta Koether, and curator Jay Sanders, along with a widening group of other friends. “Grand Openings” begins with a loosely mapped choreography – more connected to dance than to Cagean chance – but operates like a graphical score, open to interpretation by the performers. Events have taken place in cinemas, school gymnasiums, elevators, and in the permanent collection galleries of MUMOK in Vienna: stages are built and destroyed, songs are sung, food is cooked and served, films are screened, texts are read, and dances are danced, all at more or less the same time. In an additional dissolution of authorship, and to Arakawa’s delight, Grand Openings has been appropriated by another group of artists and curators in Tbilisi, Georgia. With none of the original members present, local Georgian performers have staged several interpretations of “Grand Openings” “scenarios.”