For a partial chronology of the first ten years of the Conz Archive

When, several years ago, I began collaboration with Francesco Conz in order to organize and historicize his Archive, I never imagined what valence such a work would assume. The absolute fusion existing between Francesco Conz and his Archive led me to ingenuously shift the characteristics of his creation onto his person. It is absolutely beyond a doubt that the Archive is a creature immortal and eternal of those who had the fortune to enter in and remain perplexed by the quantity (and quality) of his editions, of his documents, and of his works. Not so for Francesco who, thought still living in the myth so willfully constructed, we must in spite of that lament his disappearance.
Consequently, the job of organizing his Archive has been transformed into an activity of historical documentation of what the Archive itself was up to the death of his “ideator”. Task which, even in the simplicity of its possible explanation, has something mysterious, incomprehensible and infinite. The task therefore becoming itself infinite. Not so much for the presumption regarding the worth of the work carried out, but in the absolute certainty that such a duty will never be finished. To speak of the Archive Conz means, in effect, speak of the incommensurable.
How many measureless surprises were conserved? Nobody knows.
One day, shortly after having initiated the work on the Archive, Francesco showed me a recording of an interview between Conz and Di Maggio. They were talking about their collections. What struck me was that it was not a comparison or a confrontation between collectors, but rather a discourse on the invisibility of their treasures. No one has really seen the collections in their entirety (but it is to be asked if they effectively are able to be seen), all however speak of them and attribute works and documents. The two benefactors held forth like it was the very invisibility of their collections to increase both the myth and the presumed size. It was a real and true metaphysical dialog.
At first I did not get it, but then the illumination came: the Conz collection does not exist. What exists is only its myth.
Only the idea and the will of Conz, his absolute obstinacy and faith in the construction of the Archive constitute the reality of the Archive itself. All the rest are only bits and pieces, mirrors of vanity, “things”. To call them by their real name: fetishes.
That collecting may be connected with fetishism is nothing new. But in the version operated by Francesco Conz this link assumes a mystic connotation. The intimate connection working on the inside of his Archive between fetishes, works of art and ex-votos has something extraordinary and unique.
But this is not the place for such an analysis. It is rather that here I am called to take account of the Fluxus initiatives promoted by Francesco Conz in the course of the years. Is it possible to give such an answer? Even this is a task which borders on the impossible.

What strongly characterizes the Archive Conz, and which renders it one of a kind, is the extraordinary will towards a continuous dialog, fast-paced and productive, which pushed Francesco to set himself up as the shaper of meetings, really and truly catalyzing, able to connect many avant-garde movements. In good part, that which is characteristic of the Archive, is that Francesco Conz was not content to collect works. What interested him was to make them possible. For this reason Francesco Conz is to be considered a real and true philanthropist of the 20th Century. His passion for art became transformed into something which had little to do with reasons of merchandising, so dominant in the world of contemporary art, but which instead recalls the great Renaissance patrons ready to generously sacrifice their means for a taste of beauty and artistic innovation. To speak of munificence is surely out of date, but it is exactly this spirit which led Conz to protect and sustain numerous artists and to construct the possibility of an extraordinary story of artistic creation and of friendship.
The concept of the meeting is in fact the key to fully comprehend the development and the influence exerted by the Archive in the course of more that thirty years of activity. Francesco Conz’s great capacity of creating an atmosphere favorable to conviviality and exchange is what permitted him to initiate relationships which go well beyond the mere production of some objects for the Editions or for the Archive.
For all these reasons what I am presenting here can be nothing more than a partial work and full of holes.
The enormous quantity of data relative to Francesco’s immense photographic production, to be put in order, would need a very meticulous work of verification extracted from the numerous existing publications on Fluxus. In practice: the documentation is there but it is difficult to establish with certainty to what performance or show it refers. This was the work which we promised to do with Francesco…
Therefore the most realistic thing to do in this place is a sort of chronology of the first ten years of the Archive’s activity.

In the Asolo period, which goes from about 1973 to 1979, Francesco Conz was the host of numerous neo avant.garde artists, accumulating many documents and giving life to a series of editions and publications henceforth become historical. Many of these were edited in collaboration with Pari & Dispary Editions or with editions of Beppe Morra, even if in these editions the collaboration is not cited in the colophon.
The first Fluxus guest were Joe Jones (who stayed there until 1979), Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman, followed by Al Hansen, Jon and Geoffrey Hendricks and Takako Saito. Everyone repeatedly present in Asolo between 1974 and 1978 had to realize some performances, opportunely documented in the Archive and become historic: Kosugi’s Chamber Music by Takehisa Kosugi, Zen Smile by Nam June Paik, interpreted by Charlotte Moorman and Nam June Paik in 1974; Running by Al Hansen in 1974; Between Two Points by Geoffrey Hendricks of 1974/75; Cello Sonata of Mieko Shiomi once again played by Charlotte Moorman on the bell tower of Asolo in 1977.
Acting on impulse and moved by an enourmous passion, the collector from the Veneto acquired very important historical materials in the first years of the seventies: the photo archive connected with the activity of Schwarzkogler (in 1973 Conz organized a meeting in order to authenticate the Schwarzkogler archive in which participated: Gunter Brus, Hermann Nitsch, Edith Adam, Hoffenreich and Joe Jones), the photographic archive of the first actions on Nitsch, Brus and Muehl, a good collection of histosical photos by Peter Moore, some historical works by Georges Maciunas and the complete photo archive of the Guerrilla Art Action Group of Jon Hendricks and Jean Toche (this thanks to the acquisition of photos by Jan Van Raay who was in Asolo with Al Hansen during the summer of 1974 to choose and develop the enormous photographic documentation relating to that movement).
Inspired more by the passion than bu premeditation, Conz thus became in a short time the reference point for the neo avant-garde in northern Italy, attracting a great number of artists, other than those already mentioned, who Conz willingly hosted: Brian Buczak, Philip Corner, Dick Higgins, Takehisa Kosugi, Milan Knizak, Alison Knowles, Peter Moore, Michael Morris, Carolee Schneemann, Daniel Spoerri, Bob Watts, Emmett Williams, Walter Marchetti, Otto Muehl, Giuseppe Desiato.

All this up to 1979, a year of radical change. In that year Conz closes all commercial activities in Cittadella and moves to Verona, first at the Piazzetta Pescheria, dedicating himself wholly to art and the Archive. Here he will initially collaborate with Factotum Editions, Then, when sarenco moved to Illasi to open the mythical Domus Jani, Conz took possession of the apartment in Vicolo Quadrelli. Formerly the site of Factotum Editions. Thus the apartment will become a veritable hotbed of miracles, one of the most important meeting and work places in Verona, and not only for those of the neo-avant-garde. In the Vicolo Quadrelli pactically all the important international artists will pass through: Joseph Beuys, Hermann Nitsch, Alan Kaprow, Eugen Gomringer, the brother De Campos, Henri Chopin, Jacques Spacagna, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert Ashley, Ay-O, Giuseppe Chiari, Jean Dupuy, Robert Filliou, Juan Hidalgo, Esther Ferrer, Alice Hutchins, Jackson MacLow, Ralph Ortiz, Charles Morrow, Alain Satie’, Philip Broutin, Ben Patterson, Gunter Brus, Erik Dietman, Gerhard Ruhm, Geoff Hendricks, Philip Corner and many others. Artists often to be found as guests at the same time at Francesco’s, as is amply testified by the incredible photographic documentation conserved in the Archive itself.
How to take into account such a fine network of relationships and the multivalent activity which must follow?

1973-1983: SOME OF THE PRINCIPAL EVENTS OF THE CONZ ARCHIVE

ASOLO (Palazzo Baglioni Via Belvedere 1973-1979)

1973 – Joe Jones – Concert and one-man show in Palazzo Baglioni (September) Jones moves to Asolo until 1979
1973 – Gunter Brus – a guest in Asolo paints “The Venetian Cross”
1973 - Hermann Nitsch – completes and sets ip the “Asolo Raum”

1974 - Joe Jones – completes the “Sound Sculpture”
1974 - Jean Van Raay – guest in Asolo to authenticate the GAAG archivi (June 74)
1974 - Al Hansen - “Running” performance (July) with photo documentaion by Jean Van Raay
1974 - Otto Muhl – guest in Asolo to make some paintings
1974 - Charlotte Moorman and Nam Jun Paik - performance: “Kosugi chamber music” (documented subsequently in the 1981 edition of the same name)
1974 - Charlotte Moorman and Nam Jun Paik – performance: “Zen Smile”
1974 - Geof Hendricks - performance: "Between Two Points" - Asolo & Rosa Pineta (July 75) (documented subsequently in the 1975 edition of the same name, with Pari & Dispari)

1975 - Hermann Nitsch - performance “Requiem for Schwarzkogler” (February 22, 1975)
1975 - Peter Moore – guest at Asolo to authenticate some of the photos in the archive and to collaborated in the completion of the Paik & Moorman edition “Untitled (Retrospective 1964 - 1974)”
1975 - Knowles Alison – guest at Asolo
1975 - Hendricks Geoff – guest at Asolo to complete the edition "Between Two Points" and to give some historical works by George Maciunas to Francesco Conz
1975 - Otto Muehl guest at Asolo
1975 - Exposition ZAJ in the Gallery Multhipla (Marchetti and Hidalgo) April 9
1975 - Takako Saito takes up residence in Asolo for six months nad makes an interactive installation in the gallery of the via Belvedere
1975 - Gerhard Ruehm guest ay Asolo

1977 - Alison Knowles – guest at Asolo to work on the edition "Leone d'Oro"
1977 - Moorman Charlotte – performance of Mieko Shiomi's "Cello Sonata" in the bell tower of Asolo
1977 - Joe Jones does the “History of the Music Bike” edition (in collaboration with Pari & Dispari) - performance at Cavriago
1977 - Carolee Schneeman – guest at Asolo to do "More than Meat Joy" edition
1977 - Takehisa Kosugi – guest at Asolo - Performance "Anima 7"
1977 - Philip Corner – guest at Asolo to finish “Metal Meditations”, “Early Fluxus Music Action” and “Metelelementus”

1979 - Dick Higgins – guest at Asolo to begin work on the edition “New York, 1959-1960”
1979 - Bob Watts – guest at Asolo to begin the edition “Notes and Sketches, 1964-1966”
1979 - Milan Knizak – guest at Asolo to prepare the edition "Destroyed Music" finished the next year

VERONA (Piazzetta Pescheria 1979-1983)

1980 - Jones Joe - "Kinderkonzert" at the Caffè Centrale in ASOLO
1982 – Fluxus Banquet in honor of Fulliou (June 1982) with the partecipation of Robert Filliou, Joe Jones, Dick Higgins, Emmett Williams, Malcolm Goldstein. Many performances were presented during the evening. Photographic documentation by Fabrizio Garghetti
1982 - Bob Watts – guest at Verona to complete the edition "Notes and Sketches 1964-1966". In the evening presentations the participants, other than Watts, will be Giuseppe Chiari, Eric Andersen, Giuseppe Desiato (March 82)
1983 - Moorman Charlotte – guest at Verona to do a performance of Giuseppe Chiari “Per arco” (documented later in 1985 in an edition of the same name)

Translated by Philip Corner