Fluxus and Robert De Niro Finally Set Sale

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Published November 14, 2011

 

Understandably, the myth of a group of artists (and Robert De Niro) journeying to an uninhabited island in the British Virgin Islands to start an artist colony caught the attention of New York curator Liutauras Psibilskis. The Ginger Island Project, an unrealized project by Fluxus leader George Maciunas, became the basis of a four-year research project for Psibilskis. The results are being exhibited as part of Performa at the Storefront for Art and Architecture, Emily Harvey Foundation, and at Red Egg, a pop-up venue in Chinatown [through Nov. 19].

It was through New York filmmaker Jonas Mekas that Psibilskis learned about the Ginger Island voyage. Mekas was a friend of Maciunas, and inherited a large archive of his work after his death. “One day Jonas showed me a box full of slides that was sitting on his shelf for years. Quite a few images were of a beautiful exotic island,” says Psibilskis. “I started exploring the origins of these images, and little by little I collected more and more facts about the Ginger Island project, which is known by Fluxus scholars but not really by the broader public.”

The most intriguing part of the Ginger Island Project are the inconsistencies in how the project is represented. The story goes that Maciunas’s plan was to divide the island into separate land parcels and build pre-fabricated Fluxhouses, and in 1969, he set out to explore it with a group of Fluxus Artists before making the final decision about acquisition. Psibilskis explains, “As I understand from Milan Knizak, who was one of the travelers, there were five of them—George, Milan, Yoshi Wada, somebody called Igor, and De Niro. Milan also says that De Niro never reached the island, he stayed on another island on their way to Ginger Island (it seems that he met a girl there and decided to spend some time with her).”

For an accompanying part of exhibition at Emily Harvey Foundation, Psibilskis sought to add to the evolution of story by inviting artists Amy Granat, Japanster, Sissel Kardel, Milan Knížák, George Maciunas, Jonas Mekas, Raz Mesinai, Lisa Oppenheim, Jeffrey Perkins, Michael David Quattlebaum Jr., Marina Rosenfeld, Flora Wiegmann to readdress the visual information surrounding the Ginger Island project.