Benjamin Patterson's restaging of Nam June Paik's One for Violin, 1962. Benjamin Patterson and Peter Kotik, 1962- Courtesy the artist. Photo: Wolfgang Traeger.


November 6, 2010 – January 23, 2011 – Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

Benjamin Patterson: Born in the State of FLUX/us is a retrospective of the artist’s career, which now spans nearly fifty years. The exhibition includes both early and recent work by the artist that range from annotated scores and books to painting and sculpture. Video documentation from performances and audio files of Patterson’s music will also be featured. As a founding member of Fluxus, a loose and international collective of artists who infused avant-garde practices of the day with humor and anarchic energy, Patterson helped revolutionize the artistic landscape at the advent of the 1960s and usher in an era of new and experimental music. Now in his seventies, Patterson is being discovered by a new generation of artists. Benjamin Patterson: Born in the State of FLUX/us marks the artist’s first major exhibition, bringing together a multitude of works never before seen in the United States. The exhibition is curated by CAMH Senior Curator Valerie Cassel Oliver.

Iconic works by Patterson, including Paper Piece (1960), Variations on Double Bass (1961), and later Lick Piece (1964), have all become staples in the Fluxus performance handbook. For the first time, his annotated scores and instructions for performances will be on exhibit. Accompanying these scores is audio and video documentation of the artist’s performances over the last five decades.

In addition to scores and performance documentation, Born in the State of FLUX/us will feature a series of unique artist books, puzzle poems, paintings, sculptures, and installation works created by Patterson. More than a hundred works—works that are often provocative, with a tongue-in-cheek humor—are featured in the exhibition along with ephemera from Patterson’s “ordinary life.” For twenty years, Patterson withdrew from his career as an artist to embrace an “ordinary life.” During this period, Patterson was employed as a reference librarian, became an arts administrator, and entrepreneur, launching his own music management company, Ben Patterson Ltd.

After a nearly twenty-year hiatus, Patterson reemerged in the 1980s to resume his prolific career as an artist. In 1989, Patterson returned to Europe to live, creating a vast repository of scores, paintings, and sculptures that have been assembled in the United States for the first time with this exhibition.

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