Saturday, June 1st, ISSUE presents philosopher, musician, anti-art activist and exhibited artist Henry Flynt performing Everlovin’ Game On, an evocation of his best-known work: You Are My Everlovin’. Featuring solo electric violin and pre-recorded tambura, the piece brings together disparate vernaculars – Southern blues, modal jazz, Appalachian fiddle, North Indian raga – into a new and bracing whole. Having long foregone the academicism often associated with “serious music” in favor of a uniquely intuitive, emotional approach to composition, Flynt has developed his own proprietary technique on violin.
As Flynt writes in the liner notes for the Superior Viaduct release of You Are My Everlovin’, “The electric violin timbre is crucial; it allows me to crush the diverse styles into a unity. I imagined the genre as open, radiant improvisation … an open plain that could absorb anything.” Incorporating themes and melodic phrases from his earlier work, Everlovin’ becomes a work that is at once rooted in and liberated by the drone, revealing a profound mutability and utter singularity.
Writing on Flynt’s 2018 performance at MIT List Visual Arts Center presented in conjunction with the exhibition Introducing Tony Conrad: A Retrospective, music critic Steve Smith described Everlovin’ Game On as an “Ecstatic, ragged work […] intensely amplified to emphasize keening, throbbing overtones.” He continues, “Over a trance-inducing tambura drone, Flynt fashioned lines that swooped and soared, dipped and glided, his tone at times exploding into coarse grain or glistening shards. This was, in a word, transcendent: a tour de force of selfless intensity and aural bliss, sustained for close to 30 minutes.”
Henry Flynt was born in 1940 in Greensboro, NC. He is a philosopher, musician, anti-art activist and exhibited artist. Flynt’s work devolves from what he calls “cognitive nihilism,” first announced in the 1960 and 1961 drafts of Philosophy Proper. (The 1961 draft was published with other early work in his book Blueprint for a Higher Civilization, Milan, 1975.) He refined these dispensations in the “Is there language?” trap, published as “Primary Study” in 1964. In 1961, Flynt coined the term concept art. Concept art’s first appearance in a book was in An Anthology, release date 1963. In 1962, Flynt began to campaign for an anti-art position. He demonstrated against cultural institutions in New York in 1963 with Tony Conrad and Jack Smith, and against Stockhausen twice in 1964. He wanted art to be superseded by “veramusement” and “brend,” neologisms meaning approximately pure recreation. From about 1980, Flynt has given a great deal of time to two endeavors which did not achieve the notoriety of the early actions—”meta-technology” and “personhood theory.” In 1987, he revived concept art for tactical reasons; he spent seven years in the art world. After that, Flynt began to publish recorded but unreleased musical compositions; over a dozen CDs have appeared as of 2007. Because of his friendship and collaboration with George Maciunas, Flynt sometimes gets linked to Fluxus by unsympathetic reviewers.