March 29th, 2008 - London, England
In case there is any doubt on the matter, in the foreground of this picture is a work of art : Fluids, a Happening by American artist Allen Kaprow. Originally commissioned by the Pasadena Art Museum as part of Kaprow’s midcareer retrospective in October 1967, Fluids involved the stacking of blocks of ice by volunteer participants into a rectangular enclosure on Tate Modern’s river landscape. Its walls were then left to melt over the ensuing days.
It was in fact Kaprow who coined the term "Happening" in the 1950s as a way of describing an art form that involves the coincidence - some would say the collision - of people, objects and events. In Kaprow's own words :
“To the extent that a Happening is not a commodity but a brief event, from the standpoint of any publicity it may receive, it may become a state of mind. Who will have been there at that event? It may become like the sea monsters of the past or the flying saucers of yesterday.” Allan Kaprow (1961)