John Cage Experiments And Its Context


23.11.2012 - 20.01.2013

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Program: [Context of the visual]

Curator: [Vitaly Patsyukov]

Coordinators: [Maria Punina], [Aliya Berdigaliyeva]

Vladimir Smolyar. Art of the Fugue, installation, 2012

Organizer: National Centre for Contemporary Arts (NCCA)
Co-organizers: Merce Cunningham Foundation (USA), John Cage Foundation (USA), Ekaterina Culture Foundation
Partners: Margarete Roeder Gallery (New York), Edition Peters Publishing House
With the support of: the US Embassy in Russia, the U.S.–Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, Gayane Khachaturyan International Foundation, German Titov Library


Ekaterina Culture Foundation:
Moscow, 107996, 21/5 Kuznetsky Most, porch 8, entrance from Bolshaya Lubyanka street
11 a.m. - 8 p.m. everyday exept Monday
Entrance fee to the exhibition: 250 rubles – full, 100 rubles – discount

Presented artists: Charles Atlas, Gianfranco Baruchello, John Cage, Marco Fedele di Catrano, Merce Cunnigham, Marcel Duchamp, Dmitry Gutov, Ilya and Emilya Kabakov, Sergey Katran, Vyacheslav Koleychuk, Christian Lebrat, H.H. Lim, Vladimir Martynov, Andrey Monastyrsky, Irina Nakhova, Dmitry Prigov, Robert Rauschenberg, Hans Richter, Kirill Serebrennikov, Victor Skersis, Vladimir Smolyar, Vladimir Tarasov, German Titov, Leonid Tishkov, Vadim Zakharov, Martin Zet

John Cage, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik

John Cage is a famous American composer, philosopher, poet, musicologist and artist, who pioneered aleatory music, electronic music and unconventional use of musical instruments. Cage radically changed the perception of music: he was interested in “non-composition” technologies built on the Buddhist principle of non-doing, on using regular noises. John Cage’s ideas largely defined the development of not only music but also visual culture of the post-war avant-garde – representatives of Neo-Dada, Fluxus and New Conceptualism have found the source for their own experiments in his aesthetics. Today critics call Cage one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century.

John Cage. The Silent Presence exhibition project, implemented by NCCA in the year of the composer’s centenary in collaboration with the John Cage Foundation (USA), is part of a wider international celebratory program.

The exhibition at the Ekaterina Culture Foundation is dedicated to the influence of John Cage’s ideas and experiments on artistic culture. The exhibition traces the development of the most crucial principles of John Cage’s work in contemporary art – performativeness, random acts method, seriation etc.

Cage’s aesthetic was largely defined by his communication with artist Marcel Duchamp. “If you want to write music, you have to study Duchamp,” said the composer. Duchamp’s drawings for his famous The Large Glass are a central piece of the exhibition at the Ekaterina Culture Foundation.

Marcel Duchamp. The Large Glass (The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even), etching, 1967-1968

This part of the project will present the works of those artists, whose art was influenced by the composer’s experiments: representatives of the contemporary artistic culture, both Russian - Andrey Monastyrsky, Vadim Zakharov, Vladimir Tarasov, Vladimir Martynov, Irina Nakhova, Kirill Serebrennikov and others; and international - Gianfranco Baruchello (Italy), Christian Lebrat (France), Martin Zet (Czech Republic) and others.


The main part of the project at the NCCA exhibition hall is dedicated to the works of Cage and his closest associates – choreographer Merce Cunningham and artist Robert Rauschenberg. In the center of the exhibition are the scores and video footage of John Cage’s program piece 4’33’’ (4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence), performed by contemporary musicians.

Moreover the exhibition presents Cage’s graphic works – the Sevendaydiary series, Stones, pages from the Mushroombook; visual scores of Fontanamix, Ryoanji, MusicofCarillon and others together with their audio recordings and performances. And last, but not least: a reconstruction of John Cage’s legendary action, Lecture on the Weather (1975). Besides Cage’s works, the audience will also see photographs and documentaries about him.

John Cage’s art has yet to be deeply studied in Russia. John Cage. The Silent Presence project is the first attempt to present the multiple facets of the composer’s personality, as well as create a space where the idea of coexistence of contrasting worlds and equality of all art forms can become reality.

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