**Monograph about american Conceptual and Fluxus Artist Terry Fox (1943-2008) curated by Arnold Dreyblatt.** What is the common denominator between such different elements as the purring of cats, fishes, cigarette smoke, flour, water, yeast, and an artist’s own body? The answer is that they are all on Terry Fox’s “list of art ingredients” for his work. Elemental Gestures presents a comprehensive overview of this artist’s oeuvre and it offers fascinating and compelling insights into the multi-faceted work of this very special US artist.
Terry Fox was born in Seattle (USA) in 1943 and became a visionary of contemporary art in the 1960s and '70s. He was highly valued among his contemporaries, including such artists as Joseph Beuys, Vito Acconci, Dennis Oppenheim, or Bill Viola. However, only since very recently has he started attracting the attention of the general public too. His earliest performative works were performances and events that thematically addressed everyday phenomena and life in public spaces. Frequently his artistic activities comprised simple, elementary gestures. Fox also called them situations.
Terry Fox worked with a great diversity of materials. Among them his own body played a leading role, but dead fish were likewise on the list. With materials such as these he plumbed the mental and physical bounds. His other materials too were alive in their own way: like when he fermented flour, water, and yeast to make dough or triggered physical transformation processes using fire. He employed the smoke of cigarettes for ritual-like acts. All these materials and actions were beyond the control of the artist, and at the same time only short-lived. The transitory nature of time was always a key element of his work. This was especially true for his sound art and sound installations. For these pieces Fox selected unorthodox instruments to produce sounds: the purring of cats, piano strings that spanned whole spaces, or water dripping from a melting glacier.
From the 1970s on, the US-born artist Terry Fox spent periods in Europe more and more often. He lived in Belgium and for many years in Cologne. He also had links to Bern through his art. For example, in 1990 as part of a performance at Furka Pass, he surrendered a dead sea bass to the ice of the glacier. The artist was moved profoundly by the acoustic experience of a melting glacier. Ten years earlier he had dedicated the performance A Candle for A.W. to the Swiss artist Adolf Wölfli at the Kunstmuseum Bern. And in 1988 Fox participated in the exhibition Die Gleichzeitigkeit des Anderen (The synchronicity of the Other) with the performance The Eye Is not the Only Glass that Burns the Mind. In the 1990s the Kunstmuseum Bern accrued major artworks by the artist. He had already early in Bern attracted attention as a pioneer of performance and conceptual art.