Grand Duchy Cultural Position #8: Happenings

grandlogo150c2120bcGrand Duchy is the latest venture from Charles Thompson (a.k.a Frank Black, a.k.a. Black Francis). It’s a duo with his wife Violet Clark that explores relatively off-road terrain for Thompson: high-gloss new wave and vampish synth pop. Grand Duchy’s playful and slightly Euro-affected debut album, Petits Four, is out April 14 on Cooking Vinyl. Thompson and Clark are guest editing this week. Read our Q&A with them.

drohojowska-philp5-14-08-3No, not the band the Happenings. Happenings, as in, that which happens. Wikipedia describes a “happening” as any “performance, event or situation meant to be considered as art. Happenings take place anywhere, are often multidisciplinary, often lack a narrative and frequently seek to involve the audience in some way. Key elements of happenings are planned, but artists sometimes retain room for improvisation.”

Count Grand Duchy in. We cannot imagine anything more fun than an improvised, multi-disciplinary artistic situation. The godfather of the Happening is widely considered to be Allen Kaprow, who began developing his ideas for a communal, performative, experiential artform in the late ’50s. The hallmark (and the beauty) of the Happening is that the outcome cannot typically be predicted, as it is often the culmination of the contribution of the artists and audience.

Party time!

In the realm of the Grand Duchy, happenings are a daily occurrence. Today, a voluptuous middle-aged woman hung her laundry on the line to dry while clad only in black-lace fingerless gloves. She then climbed into a vat of mud up to her chin and sang the Grand Duchy national anthem for an hour. We all gathered ’round at the end and toasted her with pink champagne, shouting “Parmiggiano, parmiggiano!”