Barbara Steveni in her home, c.1960s. Courtesy Barbara Steveni. Image not licensed for reuse.
Barbara Steveni reveals that the idea for the Artist Placement Group (APG) was sparked by chance when she became lost one night driving through an industrial estate. Early in this Artists’ Lives audio extract Steveni mentions her friendship with Daniel Spoerri, George Brecht and Robert Filliou, members of Fluxus an international, multi-discipline group of artists. She refers to their participation in an exhibition at Victor Musgrave’s Gallery One in London in 1962. The APG was founded in 1966.
Barbara Steveni was recorded by National Life Stories for Artists’ Lives in 1998. The interviewer was Melanie Roberts. In 2018 an additional recording began with Steveni, conducted by Victoria Lane.
What had happened was that while John was in America some members of the Fluxus group, Daniel Spoerri and,George Brecht, just came for one day, but he didn’t stay with us, but Daniel Spoerri and Robert Filliou were going to put on a show in Gallery One, a sort of Fluxus show. And, they came over, and I was... Oh, this was actually, just before having Xenia, because I was heavily pregnant with Xenia, and... Sorry, I’m flipping back again. But, they, they came over, and, they stayed with me while John was in America, and... They wanted... This was where my idea for APG, which was Artist Placement Group, as it was to become, became born. Because, they wanted a whole lot of material for scrap. And I took them to a, an industrial site, just sort of, outside London, and collected some scrap for them, to make their show, you know, sort of, stuff for their show. And, a bit later than that, which must have been, ’65, ’66, yes, it would be about that time, and, I got lost on the outer circular road. This was when I was on my own, without the Fluxus group people coming with me. And I got lost on this industrial estate. And it was night-time, or at least it was dark, it was about sort of, ten o’clock. And, there was this huge, enormous industrial complex humming away. And, there was a Mars factory and a, a clock factory, Timex factory. And I thought to myself, well, instead of just picking up buckets of plastic and material, why aren’t we actually associated with this world that we don’t seem to be touching? And, I came back with this idea in my head that, we needed to be, you know, artists needed to be in this whole, other areas. And that was the beginning of, of my idea that, which grew into the Artist Placement Group.