MEMBRA DISJECTA FOR JOHN CAGE: Wanting to Say Something about John

25. 5. - 20. 8. 2012

Few artists have had such a profound impact on the arts in recent decades as American musician, writer, and visual and intermedia artist John Cage (1912-1992). Moreover, his concepts of open work, indeterminism, transversality, plurality, and interdisciplinarity correspond with recent discourse in the humanities, helping it overcome its metaphysical orientation and establish more liberal interpretation strategies. Formerly trained as
a visual artist and musician, and later inspired by Joyce and Duchamp, modern dance, oriental philosophy, and the thought of Meister Eckhart, Thoreau, Fuller, and McLuhan, Cage managed to incorporate all of these inspirational sources in his work in surprising contexts, creating postmodern intermedia and multimedia art par excellence at a time when postmodernism was still in its infancy. With respect for tradition and a sense for experimentation, he continued to open new horizons and spaces and was instrumental in the conceptualization and intermedialization of the arts.

The entire exhibition was conceived as a tribute to John Cage on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth and the 20th anniversary of his death. Its title, Membra Disjecta for John Cage, refers to his famous method of treatment for various inspirational sources as well as to the historic, aesthetic and media heterogeneity of exhibited collection (membra disjecta or disjecta membra is a Latin term for “scattered members” and is used to refer to surviving fragments of ancient pottery, manuscripts and other cultural objects). The subtitle of the exhibition, Wanting to Say Something About John, is based on a rephrasing of the title of Cage’s commemorative visual homage to Marcel Duchamp. In 1969, Cage and several other artists were asked to contribute an idea in honor of Duchamp, who had died the previous year. Cage created a multiple consisting of one lithograph and four Plexigrams presentable in random order one after another in a special wooden frame, and all printed with text generated randomly with the help of the Chinese oracular book I Ching. He ultimately decided to title the work after Jasper Johns’ statement “I don’t want to say anything about Marcel.”

Participating artists included several of Cage’s collaborators and friends as well as younger artists who are inspired by his work. It consisted of known works by renowned artists as well as pieces specially created for the project. The show was an ambitious undertaking juxtaposing a variety of media, with paintings, drawings, prints, collages, musical scores, photographs, instructive pieces, sculptural objects, installations, videos, and sound installations. As such, it attracted a varied audience with all types of educational and experiential backgrounds. Several additional events took place around the exhibition, such as concerts, lectures and educational programmes for children and schools.

 Video: A snapshot from commented tour of the exhibition: Marclay Christian, one of the exhibiting artists, created an unusual artwork - a participatory piece asking the visitors to play their ringtones to create a "random soundtrack throughout the exhibiton"


Curated by Jozef Cseres & Georg Weckwerth
Exhibiting artists:

Milan Adamciak (SK), Tyler Adams (US), Stephen Addiss (US), Robert Ashley (US), Sam Ashley (US), Conny Blom (SE), William Brovelli / Margaret Leng Tan (US/SG), Arturas Bumšteinas (LT),  Christopher Chew /Margaret Leng Tan (US/SG,), Nicolas Collins (US), Philip Corner (US/IT), Alvin Curran (US/IT), Arnold Dreyblatt (US/DE), Julius Deutschbauer (AT), David Dunn (US), Peter Graham (CZ), Sabine Groschup (AT), Milan Grygar (CZ), Franz Hautzinger (AT), Pierre Hébert (CA), Gary Hill (US), Steven Holl (US), Svetozár Ilavský (SK), Hilary Jeff ery (UK/NL), GX Jupitter-Larsen (US), Ray Kass (US), Hassan Khan (EG), Barbara Klemm (DE), Alison Knowles (US), Richard Kostelanetz (US), Petr Kotík (US/CZ), Joan La Barbara (US), Brandon LaBelle (US), Alan Licht (US), Alvin Lucier (US), Christian Marclay (US/CH), Benoît Maubrey (US/FR/DE), Jeremy Millar (UK), Gordon Monahan (CA), Charlie Morrow (US), David Moss (US/DE), Morgan O’Hara (US), Marian Palla (CZ), Paul Panhuysen (NL), Ben Patterson (US/DE), Michael Prime (UK), George Quasha (US), Lee Ranaldo / Zeger Reyers (US/NL, Keith Rowe (UK), Blahoslav Rozboril (CZ), Frank Scheff er (NL), Jirí Šigut (CZ), Jan Steklík (CZ), Volker Straebel (DE), Richard Teitelbaum (US), The Lazy Anarchists(SK/HU/US/DE), Yasunao Tone (JP/US), Kris Vleeschouwer (BE), Hong-Kai Wang (TW), Christian Wolff (US), Gerlinde Wurth (AT) & John Cage (US).
The exhibition opening featured a performance by Opening Performance Orchestra with their composition Chess Show and an excerpt from Lecture on Nothing by John Cage was performed by Jaromír Typlt. 
The exhibition took place at Museum Quartier in Vienna from February 17 to May 6, 2012.
The exhibition is suppported by The U.S. Embassy in Prague.