Response Letter to the Getty

Overflow: A Practice in Authenticity



“Today, we may say that experimental art is the act or thought whose identity, as art must always remain in doubt. Not only does this hold for anyone who plays with the “artist”; it holds especially for the ‘artist’!”

– Allan Kaprow, Just Doing, 1997


If art is not separate from experience, then what is an authentic experience of art? Allan Kaprow would have said that it lies within the process of interaction. It is the ephemeral place between concept and object, the act of living. But what qualifies an authentic action? For Kaprow, something as basic as offering up a question that allows for choice qualified. The Getty Research Institute asked the artist collective L.A. Art Girls if they would be interested in reinventing Fluids. Some of the members of the L.A. Art Girls said no, not interested, while others responded with an overwhelming YES! But what does it mean to reinvent something? In the first meaning of the word, it is to bring something back into existence, to be seen after a period of obscurity. This definition fits within the role of the museum. The second meaning is to radically change the appearance, form, or presentation of something. This definition fits within the role of the artist. The L.A. Art Girl’s proposal for Fluids is a reinvention that encompasses both definitions of the word. Overflow is the action of back and forth labor between communities, which underlines the work of Allan Kaprow. It works within the script of Kaprow’s original Happening while simultaneously allowing room for play within its implementation. It is about the enactment of the now while paying homage to the past. The reinvention must offer a space for play if the intent is to shift meaning. Without physical changes of action can new innovative meaning occur?


Is it a reenactment that the institution wants? What qualifies a reenactment, and is it where authenticity lies? Within the context of the museum the reenactment is tied to the historical. It is a type of role-playing in which participants try to recreate some aspect of history. This expression of living history attempts to bring to life a historical event for the general public, to recreate a known historical moment by using theatrical forms of entertainment for educational purposes. The museum routinely invites trained interpreters to help convey the story of  this history to the public.


As a “trained interpreter” I believe that Kaprow’s understanding of an authentic experience cannot be narrowly prescribed. The L.A. Art Girls proposal for Fluids as Overflow is a dialectic between structure and anarchy, it signifies both the fragment and the whole. Its intent is true to its definition, to spread beyond the area of containment, to be so full of an emotion as to feel the need to express it. It is here where I believe authenticity exists, and it is here where Kaprow’s work continues to be a force for the living.


All of me,

Stephanie Allespach

Participating LAAG: 

Stephanie Allespach, Tricia Lawless Murray, Krista Chael, Sydney Croskery,

Karen Dunbar, Angela Ellsworth, Phyllis Green, Micol Hebron, Parichard Holm, Leigh McCarthy,

Nancy Popp, Sarah Riley, Felis Stella, Ten Terrell, Elizabeth Tremante and Marjan Vayghan  

Defacto LAAG:

Chloe Boleyn, Tania Katan, Oona Nelson, Meg Madison, Susan Silton, DeAnna Skedel and Kelly Thompson

Overflow is a six month project by the LA Art Girls that reimagines the 1967 happening Fluids by fluxus artist Allan KaprowOverflow is conceived as a new work, as well as a historic remembrance, which will explore the social aspects of Kaprow’s practice through a series of participatory events and activities.

Overflow (A Fluids Happening) - L.A. Art Girls 

Curated by Andrew Perchuk/Assistant curator Donna Conwell

LAAG Coordinator Karen Dunbar

The Getty Center 

Saturday, April 26 – Sunday, April 27, 2008

"During two days, a rectangular structure of ice blocks (measuring about 30 feet long, 10 wide and 8 high) will be built at the Getty Center. The walls will be broken, dismantled and repurposed. The remains of these activities will be left to melt."—L.A. Art Girls