Alison Knowles is known for performances, installations, sound works, and her association with Fluxus, the international art movement that emphasizes the fusion of art and life through actions marked by playfulness, simplicity, and chance. In the 1960s, Knowles was an active participant in the New York City downtown artist community, working amongst artists such as Marcel Duchamp and John Cage. It was at that time that she started producing “event scores,” or everyday activities transformed into performances with a musical accompaniment.
Originally performed in London at the Institute of Contemporary Art in 1962, her iconic event score Make a Salad has been re-staged several times in cities around the world, including in London at Tate Modern in 2008. The event starts with live music, played by Joshua Selman, while the artist and her daughter Jessica Higgins prepare the salad ingredients by chopping them to the musical beat. The music continues while the artists mix the salad by tossing it in the air in a grandiose gesture. After the mixing is complete, the artists serve the salad to the audience as the live music continues.
Make a Salad was performed on the High Line in the Chelsea Market Passage, the semi-enclosed passageway on the High Line at West 16th Street. The artists began preparing the salad ingredients on the upper-level of the passageway. (Salad ingredients included enough locally-sourced escarole, romaine, frisée, carrots, cucumbers, onions, celery, and mushrooms for up to 1,000 people.) Then the artists tossed the salad from the upper-level to the lower-level of the passageway, and then began serving it to the audience.
Photos by Liz Ligon.