Ken Friedman, World premiere of Nam June Paik’s “First Symphony (Young Penis Sinfonie)”

“In 1973 (andwell over a decade after he had composed this piece) Paik had projected that the world premier of his yet to be performed Sinfonie No. 1 would not take place until 1984 A.D. [2] On his “mission to realize some of the supposedly unrealizable works in the Fluxus corpus,” [3] and already wholeheartedly committed to what he would later identify in his 1987 Fluxus Mythologica manuscript as the third key principle of Fluxus, a young and aggressively iconoclastic Friedman proved him wrong. Perusal of the surviving anonymous photodocumention of the world premier of the Young Penis Sinfonie further confirms that in his organization and direction of this event, Friedman had again facilitated the “creative participation” of an admittedly adventurous grouping of hard-working folks, artists, and others in what he adamantly believed was “the most complex of human activities.”

Estera Milman



[1] Nam June Paik, in Source: Music of the Avant Garde, Issue Number 11, 1973/74, Ken Friedman, guest ed., p 75.

[2] Ibid.

[3] E-mail from Ken Friedman to Estera Milman, dated July 20, 1999. In this note, the artist requested that I remind readers that he was “young and foolish” when he premiered Nam June’s piece. I, in turn, would prefer to believe that Alfred Jarry’s ghost was in attendance during Friedman’s premier of his fellow iconoclast’s “sinfonie,” and that the venerated Symbolist poet not only understood what really was at stake, but wholeheartedly approved.

About Sónia Pina

Investigadora em Filosofia da Comunicação, New-media, Old-media, Ontologias digitais, Fluxus, Visualismo, Info-estética (protocolos visuais da comunicação), Intermedialidades na Arte, Expanded-Art e Pensamento Crítico;

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