30 October 2009

Text for Program

Below is the text for the event program. Miriam has revised the excellent text that Maddy composed and then added some necessary details (title, time, date, acknowledgments, etc.)



The Phillips Collection Café

In conjunction with This is not that café series

November 5, 2009


“Ideas are one thing and what happens is another.”

- John Cage

Organized and performed by students from the Phillips’s Center for the Study of Modern Art, Re:Happening is a recreation of the legendary Theater Piece No. 1, which was orginally staged at Black Mountain College in 1952. Generally considered to be the first “happening,” Theatre Piece No. 1 simultaneously brought together music, dance, poetry, painting, photography and film into a single, multi-focus event. Conceived by the American avant-garde composer, John Cage, the piece was arranged according to a simple “score” that alotted each performer a set duration of time in which to perform. Outside of the score and the arrangement of props, nothing was pre-prescribed. Arranged as theatre-in-the-round, the performance took place both in front and around the viewers with the intent of integrating audience and performance. Theatre Piece No. 1 included readings by John Cage, M. C. Richards, and Charles Olson, a display of four Robert Rauschenberg White Paintings and one Franz Klien painting, projections of movies and still pictures by Tim LaFarge and Nick Cernovich, music on a prepared piano by David Tudor, and dancing by Merce Cunningham. Rooted in chance as a legitimate method of composition, Cage’s Theatre Piece No. 1 freed its performers to decide and develop their individual roles within its strict compartments of time.

Re:Happening grew out of a seminar on the legacy of Black Mountain College on the American avant-garde. This influential college that was located in Ashville, NC, operating from 1933-1956, treated art as central to liberal arts education and was a hotbead for new ideas in American art.

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Our sincerest gratitude goes to everyone who helped to bring this project to fruition, with special thanks to Vesela Sretenovic for her support and creativity; Megan Kuck for amiably helping with coordination; Mark Weiner for technical assistance; Alec MacKaye, Shelly Wischhusen, and Bill Kolberg for answering all of our off-the-wall questions about spatial and material concerns; On the Fly Café for generously sharing their space; and Prof. Hannah Higgins for her encouragement and thought-provoking dialogue.

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