- adjective exciting, stimulating and/or up-to-date. A fashionable term from the vocabulary of teenagers since the mid-1970s. It is influenced by the earlier black catchphrase greeting ‘what’s happening?’ and the hippy cliché, ‘it’s all happening’.
- A type of improvised artistic event that became popular inthe 1960s. The events were spontaneous or made to appear so and usuallyinvolved a good deal of audience participation. They tended to bedeliberately outrageous and confrontational in style.
The form was based on ideas introduced earlier in the centuryby the futurists, dadaists, and surrealists. A pioneer of happeningswas the US painter Allan Kaprow (1927 - 2006),who presented a mixed media '18 Happenings in 6 Parts' inan art gallery in 1959.
Happenings often took the form of unannounced street theater,which spectators could mistake for a real event. The Brazilian playwrightAugusto Boal specialized in this type of happening with his teatroinvisible. Both the term and the concept are now dated.