Intermedia, Fluxus and The Something Else Press: Selected Writings
Edited by Steve Clay and Ken Friedman
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paper 7.25 × 9.75 in.
364 pages, over 100 color and 100 bw
published in 2018
Call It Something Else, an exhibition about Dick Higgins’ Something Else Press, is open at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid through January 22, 2024.
The force of Dick Higgins’ personality, the sheer intellectual & organizational energy in evidence here, the insights into Fluxus—all make this an essential volume. An unruly guide to publishing & preserving one’s cultural present.
—Brian Dillon, Bookforum
There are few art-world figures as influential—and as little known—as Dick Higgins (1938–1998), co-founder of Fluxus, “polyartist,” poet, scholar, theorist, composer, performer and, not least, the publisher of the Something Else Press. In 1965 he restored the term “intermedia” to the English language, giving it new dimension to recognize the dissolution of boundaries, the expansion of liminal spaces between traditional modes of art making, and the open field for new forms that cannot be compartmentalized. His own contributions to intermedia are many—as a participant and instigator of Happenings, as writer and composer straddling traditional and vanguard forms, among others—but it was the Something Else Press (1963–1974) that redefined how “the book” could inhabit that energized, in-between space.
Something Else Press was as much a critical statement and radical experiment as it was a collection of books by some of the most luminary artists and writers of the twentieth century: Gertrude Stein, John Cage, Ray Johnson, Dieter Roth, Bern Porter, Emmett Williams, Robert Filliou, George Brecht, among many others. Along with his Great Bear pamphlet series and the Something Else Press newsletter, Higgins exploited and subverted conventional book production and marketing strategies to get unconventional and avant-garde works into the hands of new and often unsuspecting readers.
Edited by Granary Books publisher Steve Clay and Fluxus artist Ken Friedman, this judiciously curated and indispensable compendium of essays, theoretical writings and narrative prose by Higgins dives deep into the ever-influential ideas that he explored in theory and practice. (It also includes a substantial, highly illustrated Something Else Press checklist including Higgins’ jacket and catalog copy about the books he published.) Clay and Friedman have chosen works that illuminate his voracious intellectual appetite, encyclopedic body of knowledge, and playful yet rigorous experimentation in a selection that includes many writings long out-of-print or difficult to find.
about the author
DICK HIGGINS: It is hard to say where I came from; certainly my parenthood is uncertain, and I’ve always thought of myself as something of a mongrel. I have always belonged to many worlds, and the world we live in now is always suspicious of such divided loyalties. I seem to pass in and out of fashion the way a weaver’s shuttle moves across the loom, always moving from in to out, from warp to woof. In any case, it seems to me that my history does not begin with conception but with perception, whatever the reaction to me may be. I suppose I had a childhood, but it is part of my suspended consciousness, to be recalled as needed, but seldom needed. At some point I was noticed. That’s that. (from “A [very short] Autobiography of Originality,” 1983)
about the editors
STEVE CLAY is the publisher of Granary Books, as well as an editor, curator, and archivist specializing in literature and art of the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. He is the author or editor of several volumes including A Book of the Book: Some Works & Projections about the Book & Writing with Jerome Rothenberg and A Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing 1960–1980, with Rodney Phillips.
KEN FRIEDMAN is the youngest member of the Fluxus group, the former manager of the Something Else Press, and editor of The Fluxus Reader, as well as co-editor of the MIT Press series Design Thinking, Design Theory. He is a Chair Professor of Design Innovation Studies at Tongji University in Shanghai and also Professor Emeritus of Design at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia.
Read reviews from around the world: Artforum, Artist’s Books & Multiples, Brooklyn Rail, Glasstire, Hyperallergic, International Times, Kirkus, Leonardo, Svenska Dagbladet, Times Literary Supplement, and White Hot Magazine.
Read Matvei Yankelevich’s essay “Dick Higgins, Publisher: Notes Toward a Reassessment of the Something Else Press Within a Small Press History,” from the first issue of The Improbable, and Joshua Beckman’s tribute to Dick Higgins from the Poets House event in 2018.
Make your way to Madrid to the Reina Sofia Museum to see the exhibition Call It Something Else: Something Else Press (1963-1974), curated by Alice Centamore and Christian Xatrec, September 27, 2023-January 22, 2024.
Listen to a conversation “Something Else Press: A Love Letter to the Future” at Printed Matter in 2019 with publishers James Hoff (Primary Information), Damon Krukowski (Exact Change), and Lisa Pearson (Siglio).
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