A Zaj Sampler

Various Artists

A survey of works by the Zaj group, founded by Walter Marchetti and Juan Hidalgo in Madrid in 1964 (though it had been germinating since the late 50s). The group’s orientation was at first predominantly musical—Marchetti and Hidalgo maintained ties with John Cage after meeting and performing with him in Italy in 1959—but gradually shifted, becoming more open-ended with the inclusion of figures like poet and critic José Luis Castillejo. This collection of short texts and performance works by Marchetti, Hidalgo, Castillejo, Cortés, and others is a keen witness to the group’s ascendant poetic invention and interplay.

Originally published by Something Else Press between 1965 and 1967, the Great Bear Pamphlet series was envisioned by founding editor Dick Higgins as a “poor man’s keys to the new art,” or a means of exposing the most vital work of the time to a mass-market audience, and vice versa. The series made uncompromisingly radical work maximally accessible, with slim, chapbook-like publications of a mostly uniform, pared down design. Taken together, the pamphlets constitute a firsthand survey of the sixties avant-garde (Higgins, Barbara Moore, and Emmett Williams all had a hand in the editorial process) that is both sweeping and utterly unique, transmitting a still-vibrant signal of expanded possibility in art, music, and poetry. Presented here in a facsimile edition, the Great Bears epitomize the utopian vision of Higgins and Something Else.

Contains work by Jose-Luis Castillejo, Ramiro Cortes, Javier Martines Cuadrado, Juan Hidalgo, Walter Marchetti, Tomas Marco, and Eugenio de Vicente
16 pages
December 2007

Managing Editor: James Hoff