Alison Knowles is known for performances, installations, sound works, and her association with Fluxus, the international art movement that emphasizes the fusion of art and life through actions marked by playfulness, simplicity, and chance. In the 1960s, Knowles was an active participant in the New York City downtown artist community, working amongst artists such as Marcel Duchamp and John Cage. It was at that time that she started producing “event scores,” or everyday activities transformed into performances with a musical accompaniment.
Originally performed in London at the Institute of Contemporary Art in 1962, her iconic event score Make a Salad has been re-staged several times in cities around the world, including in London at Tate Modern in 2008. The event starts with live music, played by Joshua Selman, while the artist and her daughter Jessica Higgins prepare the salad ingredients by chopping them to the musical beat. The music continues while the artists mix the salad by tossing it in the air in a grandiose gesture. After the mixing is complete, the artists serve the salad to the audience as the live music continues.
Make a Salad was performed on the High Line in the Chelsea Market Passage, the semi-enclosed passageway on the High Line at West 16th Street. The artists began preparing the salad ingredients on the upper-level of the passageway. (Salad ingredients included enough locally-sourced escarole, romaine, frisée, carrots, cucumbers, onions, celery, and mushrooms for up to 1,000 people.) Then the artists tossed the salad from the upper-level to the lower-level of the passageway, and then began serving it to the audience.
Alison Knowles (b. 1933, New York) lives and works in New York. She is a visual artist known for her sound works, installations, performances, publications, and collaborations with John Cage and Dick Higgins. Knowles was a founding member of the international Fluxus group, a performance and art collective, in the 1960s. Recent solo exhibitions include James Fuentes LLC, New York (2011); Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York (2008); and Musee des Moulages, Lyon (2007), among many others. Her work has been shown at the Whitney Museum, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the 1983 Venice Biennale, Venice; and the Guggenheim Museum, New York. She has performed at the Dia Foundation, New York; Museum of Modern Art, Strasbourg; Museum of Modern Art, Marseilles; and the Whitney Museum, New York. She has been the recipient of a numerous grants and awards, including a Documenta Professorships at the Kunstakaedmie Kassel and the College Art Association Lifetime Achievement Award.
Jessica Higgins (b. 1964, New York) lives and works in New York and Massachusetts. Higgins is an improvisational dancer, performance artist, and visual artist. She is the daughter of Fluxus founders Dick Higgins and Alison Knowles and therefore has direct experiential knowledge of Fluxus, having spent her early years participating in historic Fluxus events with the original members. She has performed works by Nam June Paik, Alison Knowles, Yoko Ono, Meiko Shiomi, Larry Miller, and Eric Andersen, in addition to her original works. Recent activities include Eastworks Selection Gallery, Easthampton, Massachusetts (2012); Performa 11, New York (2011); Ryerson Theater, Toronto (2010); Scandinavia House, New York (2010); and Emily Harvey Foundation and Gallery, New York (2010, 1999).
Joshua Selman (b. New York) practices public space intervention, large-scale installation, cultural-strategy, critical journalism, and applied new media. He has made major sound works including several with Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Cologne, Germany and Emily Harvey Gallery, New York. Selman has worked extensively with Alison Knowles and Dick Higgins. He formerly served as the Executive Director of The International Artists Museum at the New York Center. He founded Artist Organized Art in 2003, the parent company of New Observations, which supports artist organized media, events and cultural education.
This High Line Art Performance is presented by Friends of the High Line and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. High Line Art is made possible by Donald R. Mullen, Jr., additional support from Vital Projects Fund, Inc. This program is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and from the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State’s 62 counties.