Laurel Jean Fredrickson introduces her paper ‘Life as Art, or Art as Life: Robert Filliou and the Eternal Network‘
This essay focuses on the Portraits Not Made (1970) by Robert Filliou, a French artist of the postwar neo-avant-garde and a founding member of the international transdisciplinary art movement Fluxus. Interrogating originality and authorship, these ‘Intermedia’ works ‘depict’ artists: George Brecht, Dieter Rot, Dorothy Iannone, Irmeline Lebeer, Josef Beuys, Andy Warhol, John Cage, Arman, and Toi (you). Though virtually blank, they translate between binaries: visual/textual, material/immaterial, made/not made, artist/viewer. Inherently performative, Filliou’s portraits draw the viewer into a ‘poetic economy’ based on three systems: Permanent Creation, the Eternal Network, and the Principle of Equivalence (well made, badly made, not made). Drawing on economic theory shaped by Fluxian absurdity and a Zen-like understanding of reality as at once empty and full, Filliou’s works undermine hierarchies – artistic and political – that privilege individual genius and art as capital exchange. His works propose alternative systems of value by acknowledging the viewer as co-creator.