It must have been Mike (Bongo Mike, my former busking partner, now sadly deceased) who first coined the term “Situation Art”.
It was at a time when we were living mostly on the continent, busking gypsy-style from cafe to cafe in the winter, and from terrace to terrace in the summer. In Britain in those days near enough any form of busking was against the law – though of course that didn’t mean that you couldn’t get away with it, it just meant that you were looking over your shoulder the whole time, or employing someone else to be a look-out, so that you knew when the police were coming. This way of life was apparently tolerable to some, but Mike and I – being perhaps travelers by nature – preferred the inconveniences of a nomadic existence abroad to the unpleasantness of regular visits to Police stations and Magistrates Courts in our home country.
We were based for some years in a Belgian town called Leuven, best-known in some circles for its old University, and in others for the Stella Artois brewery. Sitting one day in a student cafe on the Tiensestraat, Mike suddenly announced, in a loud voice which he would use when he wanted others besides just me to hear, “What we are doing is Situation Art”.
This was, I believe, the starting point of a journey that would last until we could busk no more, because of ill-health.