JOHN CAGE'S EXPERIMENTS IN CONTEXT
Ekaterina Cultural Foundation, November 23, 2012 – January 20, 2013
JOHN CAGE. THE SILENT PRESENCE
NCCA (Moscow, 13 Zoologicheskaya street), December 28, 2012 – January 2013
Organizer: The National Center for Contemporary Art (NCCA)
Co-organizers: Merce Cunningham Trust (USA), John Cage Trust (USA), Ekaterina Cultural Foundation
Partners: Margarete Roeder Gallery (New-York), Edition Peters Publishing House
With the support of: the USA Embassy in Russia, U.S. - Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, Gayane Khachaturian International Foundation, German Titov Libraries
Curator: Vitaly Patsyukov
John Cage is a famous American composer, philosopher, poet, musician and artist, who became a pioneer in the field of aleatoric music, electronic music and off standard use of musical instruments. Cage has fundamentally changed the perception of music: he was interested in "non-composition" technologies, based on Buddhist principle of non-doing and using ordinary noises. John Cage's ideas in many ways defined the development of not only music, but also the Visual culture of the post-war avant-garde. Representatives of neo-Dada, Fluxus and the New Conceptualism considered his aesthetics as a source of inspiration for their own experiments. Today critics call Cage one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century.
"John Cage. The Silent Presence" exhibition project, implemented in the year of the composer's centenary by the NCCA in cooperation with John Cage Trust (USA) was a part of a wider international celebratory program.
The exhibition presented at the Ekaterina Cultural Foundation was dedicated to the influence of Cage's ideas and experiments on artistic culture. The exposition traces the development of the most important principles of John Cage's work in contemporary art – performativeness, the method of random action, seriation etc.
Cage's aesthetics was largely defined by his communication with the artist Marcel Duchamp. "If you want to create music you have to study Duchamp", said the composer. Duchamp's drawings for the famous "Big Glass" were the central part of the exposition at the Ekaterina Cultural Foundation.
This part of the project presented the works of those authors whose art was influenced by the composer's experiments: representatives of the contemporary artistic culture, both Russian: Andrei Monastyrsky, Vadim Zakharov, Vladimir Tarasov, Vladimir Martynov, Irina Nakhova, Kirill Serebrennikov and others; and Western – Gianfranco Baruchello (Italy), Christian Lebrat (France), Martin Zet (Czech Republic) and others.
The main part of the project at the exhibition hall of NCCA was dedicated to the works by Cage and his closest associates – choreographer Merce Cunningham the artist Robert Rauschenberg. In the central part of the exposition were the music scores and video footage of John Cage's program piece 4’ 33’ (4 minutes 33 seconds of silence), performed by contemporary musicians.
Moreover the exposition presents Gage's graphic works – Sevendaydiary series, Stones, pages of the Mushroombook; visual cores of Fontanamix, Ryoanji, MusicofCarillon and others together with their recording and performances, as well as reconstruction of John Gage's legendary 'Lecture on the Weather" (1975). Besides Gage’s works the audience will see photographs and documentaries about him.
John Cage's art is still not deeply studied in Russia. The "Silent Presence" project was the first attempt to present multiple facets of the composer's personality, to create a space were the idea of coexistence of contrasting worlds and equality of all art forms could become reality.