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SHITA:
AWAKENING THE SAGA SPIRIT
By KEN FRIEDMAN1

Shita is a collaborative art and dance team from Iceland They presented an installation and performance of their work at the 10th annual European Architecture Students Assembly in Karlskrona, Sweden. Fluxus artist and theorist Ken Friedman, who led a seminar at EASA, writes here about their work. Friedman has worked with Nordic literature and culture, traveling and living in Scandinavia since 1986. He views Shita in the context of Old Icelandic culture and the saga tradition.

In the late 1950 s and early 1960s, artists, dancers, composers and other creators posed a question for the development of contemporary art. The question was: "Can art create forms that transcend the boundaries of the separate media and disciplines? ‘The answers they developed weren't all the time satisfactory, sometimes not even interesting but the question fascinated leading figures in many fields, and the inquiry itself was valuable.

As the years went on, many artists couldn't find solutions in their work. The question wasn't for them - or at least not for them to answer. They remained painters, dancers, composers - creators working within the frame of a discipline with boundaries and a name. Others found ways to transcend the boundaries. Still others decided that there were no boundaries to transcend. These two viewpoints are visible in intermedia, Fluxus, happenings and the cognate fields pursued by these artists and their colleagues. Moreover, some solutions to the question didn't come from the traditional worlds of art or dance. Sometimes, the work appeared so foreign to artists coming from a traditional base that they didn't recognize it when they saw it. It might lie outside the traditional frame of vision or the artists simply might not use the common vocabulary. This is the case with Shita.

1http://orpheus.ucsd.edu/speccoll/findaids/fine_arts/friedman


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