Happening

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A happening is a performance, event or situation meant to be considered art, usually as performance art. Happenings take place anywhere (from basements to studio lofts and even street alley ways), are often multi-disciplinary, with a nonlinear narrative and the active participation of the audience. Key elements of happenings are planned, but artists sometimes retain room for improvisation. This new media art aspect to happenings eliminates the boundary between the artwork and its viewer. Henceforth, the interactions between the audience and the artwork makes the audience, in a sense, part of the art.

In the later sixties, perhaps due to the depiction in films of hippie culture, the term was used much less specifically to mean any gathering of interest, from a pool hall meetup or a jamming of a few young people to a beer blast or fancy formal party.

Contents

History

Origins

Allan Kaprow first coined the term "happening" in the spring of 1957 at an art picnic at George Segal's farm to describe the art pieces that were going on[citation needed]. The first appearance in print was in Kaprow's famous "Legacy of Jackson Pollock" essay that was published in 1958 but primarily written in 1956. "Happening" also appeared in print in one issue of the Rutgers University undergraduate literary magazine, Anthologist.[1] The form was imitated and the term was adopted by artists across the U.S., Germany, and Japan. Jack Kerouac referred to Kaprow as "The Happenings man", and an ad showing a woman floating in outer space declared, "I dreamt I was in a happening in my Maidenform brassiere".

Happenings are difficult to describe, in part because each one is unique and completely different from one another. One definition comes from Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort in The New Media Reader, "The term "Happening" has been used to describe many performances and events, organized by Allan Kaprow and others during the 1950s and 1960s, including a number of theatrical productions that were traditionally scripted and invited only limited audience interaction."[2] A "Happening" of the same performance will have a different outcomes because each performance depends on the action of the audience. In New York especially, "Happenings" become quite popular even though many have not seen nor experienced it.

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