unCage your mind
By Teresa Vila Verde
At CAGE101’s conference I want to get inside John Cage’s mind to uncage our minds about what art is. Indeed, the knowledge of Cage’s work and philosophy is crucial to understand of what art means today. And I am not just referring to music, but to a large arena of activities that are usually called by the umbrella name of performance.
Cage’s interest in improvisation and free association challenged many art conventions in the fifties and paved the way for the happenings and other performance activities that happened during the sixties and seventies. But we can find echoes of his experiments in today’s art discourse and practice. Therefore, my presentation will be guided and fuelled by the questions: where can we find Cage today? How did Cage’s experiments contribute to a paradigm change in the art world? How can Cage uncage our mind about art? To answer these questions I will put my attention in some pivotal contemporary artists, like for example the body artist Marina Abramovic, whose work express, in my opinion, why John Cage’s mind is so important to us understand contemporary acts.
This undertaking seems to me urgent to do because, even 101 years after his birth, his work is still controversial, especially among musicians and music students, which tend to ignore it or to ironize it. Acknowledging this I will endeavour to demonstrate why there is an art world before Cage and an art world after Cage. To do this I will make a lecture-performance that will interlink Cage’s work with silence, words, video, performance and, hopefully, spirituality.