Theses Doctoral

George Maciunas and the Art of Paperwork

Chamberlain, James Colby

This dissertation focuses on the role of George Maciunas as “chairman” of the neo-avant-garde movement Fluxus. Its introductory chapter provides an overview and assessment of Fluxus scholarship, and advances the argument that Maciunas established an intersection between post-Cage aesthetics and postwar administration. The succeeding chapters situate Maciunas’s work in relation to apparatuses regulating education, circulation, production, and health care. Taking as its primary objects Maciunas’s “paperwork”—his visually striking charts, newsletters, card files, architectural plans, and other documents—this study shows how Maciunas employed administrative techniques to build the infrastructure for Fluxus’s collective practice and, concurrently, drew on Fluxus’s aesthetic tactics to disrupt or evade state regulation. Chapter two, “Card Files & Charts,” reconstructs how Maciunas’s training in the professions of architecture and art history was applied to organizing Fluxus’s publications and concerts; Chapter three, “Newsletters & Postcards,” traces Maciunas’s maintenance of an international Fluxus network via the postal service; Chapter four, “Registrations & Catalogs,” reveals how Maciunas codified Fluxus’s negotiation of individual and collective authorship within the legal framework of US copyright law; and, finally, Chapter five, “Prescriptions,” locates in Maciunas’s performances a body marked by medical administration.


This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2026-04-18.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Joseph, Branden Wayne
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 4, 2016