This fall, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
presents MCA DNA: John Cage, the latest installment of the MCA DNA series that features important building blocks of the MCA Collection. Mounted for Cages centenary year, this exhibition traces the productive, 25-year relationship of the celebrated avant-garde composer/artist with the MCA through works in the collection as well as archival materials. MCA DNA: John Cage is curated by MCA Curator Lynne Warren and is on view September 1, 2012, to March 3, 2013.
John Cage began his relationship with the MCA in October 1967 when he performed What Did You Bring? with fellow-Fluxus artists Alison Knowles and Dick Higgins at the opening celebration of the museums inaugural exhibition, Pictures to be Read/Poetry to be Seen. His work Variations VIII was also performed at the event and mushrooms were cooked as part of the performance. MCA DNA: John Cage displays over 80 objects from the MCAs Collection that document his association with the museum, including archival materials such as letters to MCA staff and vintage photographs.
Cages best known project with the MCA is A Dip in the Lake: Ten Quicksteps, Sixty two Waltzes, and Fifty-six Marches for Chicago and Vicinity (1978), a score he created by using a map of the city of Chicago. It was performed as part of Mayor Brynes New Music America festival in 1982, organized by the MCA and dedicated to and featuring Cage on his 70th birthday. The work was last performed by Robert Pleshar as part of the Mapping the Self exhibition in 2007.
Materials in the exhibition also include: documentaries of the 1969 performance of two of his pieces by Cages close friends Nam June Paik and cellist Charlotte Moorman; John Giornos Dial-a-Poem project that had featured Cages Mushroom Haiku; the 1971 Mixed Media Workshop performance of Imaginary Landscape #4 and Water Music that called for a prepared piano, radio, duck whistle, various sized bowls of water, and a deck of cards as instruments; and an excerpt from Silence as part of Art by Telephone.