Exhibition: OCC.0010

Don’t Blame it on ZEN: The Way of John Cage & Friends

September 3, 2021 – February 22, 2022

Widely revered as an innovator in the non-standard use and “preparation” of musical instruments, indeterminacy, chance-based and electroacoustic music, John Cage (1912-1992) was perhaps both the most provocative and the most influential American composer of the 20th century. Cage taught at Black Mountain College in the summers of 1948 and 1952 and was in residence during the summer of 1953. While at BMC, Cage lectured on the Huang-Po Doctrine of Universal Mind and organized what has been credited as the first-ever “Happening.” As the exhibition title and John Cage’s own words make clear, Cage wished only “to free Zen of any responsibility for [his] actions,” yet his profound influence continues to be seen, heard, and experienced through his work and the work of friends and countless followers. Don’t Blame it on ZEN: The Way of John Cage and Friends presents works by Cage and his contemporaries including Nam June Paik, Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Robert Rauschenberg, and M.C. Richards as well as those deeply influenced by his work and teachings such as composer Matana Roberts, artist and performer Aki Onda, interdisciplinary artist Andrew Deutsch, and abstract turntablist Maria Chavez.
Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (120 College Street)
John Cage