John Cage
Activity

John Cage

in progress
"John Cage, preparing a piano", before 1950

Monographic course curated by Carmen Pardo

This course, organised in connection with the exhibition The Anarchy of Silence. John Cage and Experimental Art, which will open at the MACBA in Autumn 2009, will trace a course through the career of John Cage: from his early works in the thirties, in which he expanded the parameters of percussion music using unconventional instruments, to his famous conception of silence and his innovative multimedia collaborations in the eighties. It will also analyse the influence of Cage on his contemporaries and on later artists, as well as his collaborations with Robert Rauschenberg and Merce Cunningham, among others.

So that I won’t be deaf and blind to the world around me.

John Cage (1912-1992), singular artist – painter, musician, thinker, musicologist and inventor – showed that it was possible to venture into the woods of music, that the transformation of thought can be one of the aims of art and that there is a continuity between life and art. He did this by ridding his baggage of preconceived ideas, of the burden of memory and the ballast of over-automated emotions, until he became a bird. Thus transformed, John Cage invites us to leave the cage, any cage, so that we won’t be deaf and blind to the world around us.

First, we have to leave the cage formed by a musical framework that turns sound into notes and harmony into a wall. Cage suggests a different definition of what we consider to be “musical”, and draws endless imaginary landscapes for music. Percussion instruments and his prepared piano will visit these landscapes, and all noises and silence will also land there. Through silence, Cage continues along this completely new path, moving through the nothing-in-between, chance and the indeterminate, with echoes of Zen Buddhism.

Almost without noticing, in this flowing over nothingness in which all limits have been challenged, the bird has left the second cage: that which makes a distinction between life and art. Outside he breathes in continuity like in a happening, like his “musicircus” in which simultaneity – like life itself – comes into play.

Once the boundaries between art and life have disappeared, this same gesture has to be reflected in the expression of thought, in writing itself. To do this, the artist turns to diverse typographies as in “Silence”, creates his “mesostics” and produces the break between signifier and signified (“Empty Words”). After this journey, which has pulverised what was known as “art”, it is time to leave the final cage, made up of value judgements, and dare to think differently about the social action of art and the connections between art and politics.

«I am for the birds, not the cages that people put them in.» John Cage

Carmen Pardo

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dates
20 April 2009 – 28 April 2009
price
Regular fee: 30 eur. Students and the unemployed: 20 eur. MACBA Friends: free. MACBA Auditorium. Limited seating
title
John Cage
dates
20 April 2009 – 28 April 2009
title
John Cage
price
Regular fee: 30 eur. Students and the unemployed: 20 eur. MACBA Friends: free. MACBA Auditorium. Limited seating
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