Archive for April, 2009


Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2009 by moveyhouse

A “happening” for me is all circumstances. Created by circumstances. Result and fruit of circumstances. (Claes Oldenburg)

A happening is hard to define. Even in the 1960s when the term was first used nobody seemed that sure of what it meant (or at least, everyone was very sure of their own quite separate idea of what it meant). Happenings happened in warehouses, out on the street, in shops and in cinemas. Happenings involved actors, or just instructions. They happened with an audience or they barely happened at all.

Although at the time they were known about by a few people and seen by even less, the happenings of people like Claes Oldenburg and Allan Kaprow have become increasingly well known as the years have gone on. Now especially there is a huge amount of interest in their work and in attempting to restage some of these happenings.

But what does it mean to restage a happening?

So much has changed since the 60s. We see the world differently. Happenings were messy and ephemeral—born out of the place they were created.

I’m trying to find a different way of recreating things from the past.

Moveyhouse is where I’m starting. Moveyhouse was a happening that occured in 1965 in a cinema in New York. It happened on three nights. Oldenburg said he wanted to create an abstraction of a cinema with the addition of a certain amount of fantasy. Moveyhouse lasted for about twenty minutes – the audience stood along one aisle of the cinema and watched a group of performers sitting watching a blank screen – they followed random instructions given to them on pieces of card that told them what to do – to stand up, to put on a pair of Mickey Mouse ears, to eat popcorn. etc. A man carried a bicycle across the seats – when he reached the front the event ended and everyone left.

At ICA I wanted to recreate Moveyhouse. Not as an event, but as an idea, as a set of thoughts and actions and provcations. I wanted to recreate the things that have changed and the things that have stayed the same.

If you were at Moveyhouse at the ICA thanks for coming. I’m interested in what you thought of the experience.

How would you describe it to a friend?

What did it make you think of?

Would you have preferred to know more about Moveyhouse before you experienced it?

I’d be really grateful for any comments you wanted to leave. Thanks!