slime_slime_sly (slime_slime_sly) wrote,

while in barcelona i had the inmense luck of catching an old friend of mine doing a guided tour of the John Cage exhibition at the contemporary art museum there. He usually does it as part of MACBA's program of activities for children, so he did it in a very entertaining way as we were the first group of adults exposed to him.
And it was lucky that it was so, for what could be more inappropiate for someone like John Cage than a guide who used the usual contemporary art bluff talk to expand his works into some shapeless infinity?Of all the very complex and advanced artists in the past century, he is one that cannot be expressed beyond terms a child can grasp, for good and for ill.
While in the shabby non-art school i went to I had a big trouble putting together in my mind his work and that of Duchamp with the complex terminology that they were introduced with.
Cage is known for making a 1950's audience listen to an orchestra playing a score which consisted of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence and changed music forever. Duchamp exhibited a toilet in an art gallery in 1917 and changed art forever. That was the official line, only with less words. My obtuse and provintial 18 year old head had an enormous trouble getting around that idea. I guess the thing that most troubled me was what about the rest of those two guys' work?what did they do the rest of their life, after changing art and music forever?did they retire off the royalties and went hunting giraffes with Dali in the south pole?what was in their head that was so brilliant,and can I have a piece of it so I can change something forever too?I wouldn't have minded something humbler, like being the guy who changed origami forever by making a crumpled paper ball during the World Origami Olympics.
But in this tour of his work I got it, and I might have grasped part of the mistery that always eluded me about contemporary art. I realized that those two iconic acts from duchamp and cage were so much bigger than themselves as artists, that they had rendered their work almost invisible as a result. They almost seem like the doodlings that the idea itself would make if it was a person, and had to fill its days doing whatever until death made it inmortal. Its not like their work is worthless - what it was is as unpretentious as can be. Oh, wait, im getting it now, as Im typing. Fuck, was I ever obtuse!I was fooled by the epic proportions those acts had taken. Ive been fooled all along and I see it now, in the middle of making my point. What I didnt see was the same that the others didn't see, and the reason that those 2 deeply innocent acts became a scandal in the first place. Fuck, I dont know how to resolve this situation now Im just gonna have to post this as it is to show my foolishness.
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