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John Cage

Devoted Play

November 9, 2012 - November 9, 2012

Guest Curated by Christopher Butterfield in the LAB Gallery

John Cage (1912-1992) was an American composer, philosopher and artist. It is impossible to define Cage in terms of a single discipline. It may be that his discipline is simply the imagination, endlessly provoked. Cage is best known for developing indeterminacy as the principal method used for creating his work, whether it be sound, text or image.

A tireless worker and organizer, he was a friend of and collaborator with many of the most important contemporary artists and thinkers, including: Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Marcel Duchamp, Mark Tobey, Morris Graves, Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham, Marshall McLuhan, Norman O. Brown. In the early 1950’s he was also a member, along with composers Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff and Earle Brown, of what is now called the New York School. Cage was very strongly influenced by eastern thought, initially Hindu then more importantly Zen, which he studied from the late 40’s on. The music of French composer Erik Satie, and the writings of American philosopher Henry David Thoreau and Irish writer James Joyce are central to his work.

Devoted Play brings together artifacts which show various aspects of a man now considered among the most influential figures in art and music. Each object illuminates a part of Cage’s world, whether musical, visual, or philosophical: a letter justifying 4’33”, his notorious silent piece; a Japanese zen painting; examples of his own graphic work; and film of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, with which he was associated for many years.

This exhibition will be part of a city wide celebration of Cage’s 100th birthday with exhibitions and performances presented by the Victoria Symphony, Open Space, and the University of Victoria. For information on all Cage-related events, both local and international, go to:

Here’s what’s happening at the Gallery:

CAGE 100: Opening Event
Thursday November 8 | 7pm
Join the AGGV, Open Space, Victoria Symphony, and the University of Victoria in celebrating the opening of this dynamic season of events, with a performance of John Cage’s Imaginary Landscape No. 3 (1951), for 12 radios by the Uvic Sonic Lab. Admission to the Opening Event is FREE and open to the public.

Film Screening & Discussion
Thursday November 22 | 7pm
Renowned American composer Gordon Mumma offers a screening of his documentary TIME’SPACE chronicling the rehearsals, conversations, performance and visual art of Cage from 1960–80 followed by a conversation with Mumma about his experiences with Cage, and his profound impact on music, art and culture. Admission to the film screening is $15 (or $5 for members). Advance ticket will be sold starting November 8, and can be purchased at the Opening Event.

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