Henning Christiansen – Kreuzmusik

Kreuzmusik was commissioned by the Bonner Kunstverein Gallery, Kunstfond, Germany in August 1989, for inclusion in their 'Taking Fluxus Around for a Drive' happening, (also featuring performances by Dieter Daniels, George Maciunas, Allan Kaprow, Al Hansen, Joe Jones and others) and originally issued on cassette in 1990 by Neue Bildende Kunst in an edition of 100 copies.

"in 1967 Joseph Beuys and i travelled to darmstadt for a performance of hauptstrom fluxus from 1:00 -11:00pm (10 hours) on the 20th march. hauptstrom was basically a new ritual, which is how a lot of people saw it at the time, and later on too. beuys used his own body as a deeply primal human language, and i made 10 hours of ritual music using a number of tape recorders. and obviously we wanted to make a completely new space for hauptstrom. the space at franz dahlem's at 7 aha street was small and there was even less space for the rather large audience because beuys made a roughly 7cm high rampart of margarine around his own performance space; and my main motif was a knocking sound, like the sound of a heart beating, which i used to create peace in the space, separate from the other more energetic sound-music passages. when i got the invitation for 'taking fluxus around for a drive' i immediately remembered that darmstadt exhibition in 1967. it's not all that far from denmark, 150 km to bonn-darmstadt, but a timespan of 22 years. i thought of jörg immendorf's lidl-bundestag, which you could say landed in the roses outside the real bundestag. this poetic, political act impressed me at the time, because it showed that our world could basically be quite different. i decided straight away that i wanted to make kreuzmusik, and i was also sure that no other fluxus people would come up with the same idea. most of my fluxus friends go for homo ludens and that's fine, but i wanted to feel the intimacy again in a small space, i wanted to make a scandinavian ritual in fluxid behandlung. i took my stone age gramophone (which really does play stones) called my friend ernst ludwig kretzer from hamburg and arranged with him that he would operate a time delay on my tapes and voice so that i could ritualise freely.

in kunstfond i didn't make a mound of margarine - of course not - instead i made one from flour (bread), in the middle of this was the stone age gramophone and hanging on the wall there were strange crosses, made out of socks and clothes hangers; as well as this there was a headless figure of christ and a toy cessna plane in a little canary cage.

i began with my piece io am en vogel as a 'starter' (about 20 minutes), then i performed zum preis des fluxus, which had been my contribution to the wiesbaden fluxus 82 catalogue, then i threw green stones into a bucket of water, then to the accompaniment of the eurasienstab -fluxorum organum music i played a green cutting sheet that was hanging on my chest, then to european zen i played 3 glass bowls with red sticks, the bells and knocking für das alte russland (for old russia). then everything went dark and i lit candles while my deep groundnote played. after 5 minutes played the lights came on again and my groundnote led into the sheep composition (sheep instead of fiddles); i used my green fat-fiddle to make little twittering sounds; for me, sheep mean peace and insight. this soundworld then lead into the composition with 180 hammer blows against war monkeys. i hammered very sharply and powerfully. beuys once wrote a piece with the title: der dumme hammer tritt auf (the stupid hammer performs), that's how it should be - against the war monkeys, logical. this sequence then finally lead into peaceful bird twitterings in a piece that i call die freiheit ist um die ecke (freedom is around the corner). during this i slowly immersed the cesna plane inside the canary cage in a tub of water , after i had flown around in my own space for a while. and that was the end of the whole seance. it lasted over an hour. - Henning Christiansen, 1990.”

Thanks to The Henning Christiansen Estate and Ursula Block.

Available as 320kbp MP3 or 16bit FLAC 


1. Kreuzmusik Fluxid Behandlung Op 189 (1989) - 46:44

Henning Christiansen

Henning Christiansen (May 28, 1932, Copenhagen – December 10, 2008) was a Danish composer and an active member of the Fluxus-movement. He worked with artists such as Joseph Beuys, Nam June Paik, Bazon Brock and Wolf Vostell as well as with his wife Ursula Reuter Christiansen. Other collaborators include Bjørn Nørgaard, Carlo Quartucci, Carla Tato, Ernst Kretzer, Ben Patterson, David Moss, Ute Wassermann, Andreas Oldörp, Christophe Charles, Bernd Jasper, Henrik Kiel, Vilem Wagner, Vladimir Tarasov, Niko Tenten, and many others.

His overall goal was to work collaboratively and to trespass conventional boundaries. He resented the idea of an isolated artistic genius and his entire production can be seen as a subsequent and vibrant example of praxis in a constant flux. He believed in the need to trespass conventional boundaries between artistic disciplines. This is visible from his engagement in Fluxus, over numerous collaborative performances to his position as a professor at the Art Academy in Hamburg (Hochschule für Bildende Künste).

Christiansen lived almost 40 years on the Danish Island Møn. He presented a retrospective exhibition in Copenhagen and participated in the music festival Wundergrund shortly before his death. (wikipedia)

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