Alison Knowles is an artist who, in the early 1960s, helped found the Fluxus group, with which she performed internationally. She composed the pages for and coedited John Cage’s book Notations and created the print Coeurs Volants, signed by Marcel Duchamp. With Fluxus, she made Bean Rolls (1963), a canned book designed by George Maciunas, which appeared in the Whitney Museum. Big Book (1967), a walk-in installation, permitted the spectator-reader to go inside. In 1968, House of Dust—the first computerized poem on record, programmed with composer James Tenney—won her a Guggenheim Fellowship.
At Documenta X in Kassel, Germany, Knowles was appointed a guest professor. She taught at the International Summer Academy of Fine Arts in Salzburg, Austria. Her work was featured in the exhibitions In the Spirit of Fluxus and Out of Actions: Between Performance and the Object: 1949–1979. In 2001, she performed and exhibited new paper and sound works at the Drawing Center in New York.
Knowles’s exhibition Time Samples (2006) traveled from Venice to New York. She performed three event scores at UBS Openings: The Long Weekend 2008 at the Tate Modern, where Make a Salad drew a record audience. Her Event Threads series appeared for the first time in New York at Miguel Abreu Gallery, and has traveled to Genoa and Berlin. In January 2009, she participated in The 3rd Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860–1989, at the Guggenheim, where she performed her Giant Bean Turner through March.