“HAPPENINGS” are artist’s events – these created by Allan Kaprow and Charles Fraser are public participations in real time activities – related to action painting and a forerunner of conceptual art – producing images and spectacle as well as whatever participants and spectators might discover.
“Happenings,” a term coined by artist Allan Kaprow, were anti-art, audience-participation events that contributed to radical changes in the course of late 20th century art. Kaprow conceived “happenings” with public participation throughout his long, inventive career. His purpose? To help men and women recognize how remarkable it is for people to have the freedom to play – and to take their play seriously. Each happening takes place but once – as recorded in this rare documentation of Kaprow’s art.
A noisy parade with people rolling steel drums and grasping massive balloons; a kid’s picnic in an automobile graveyard; passengers stringing clothesline and sheets across a circling ferry as nursing students anxiously beckon them to the dock. These are just a few “happenings” captured on film, as bewildered spectators watch participants in acts that not even they quite understand.
Kaprow’s concept is scrutinized by art critics and collectors who help to explain his efforts in this engaging film, shot at the beach, the junkyard, the streets and the dump, yes, the dump, of eastern Long Island’s Hamptons in the halcyon 60’s.
Today, Kaprow’s writings and papers, the records of his influence on art, are a permanent part of the archives of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles – this film records one of his most productive periods.