SILENCE AND CHANGE
- John Cage and the Squat / Benefit for the Culture Center in Hanau (Germany) -
To recognize consciously what surrounds us is a first essential step on the way to change and development ...
In different countries people try to realize the ideal of a self-determined,
noncommercial culture, and a solidarity by squatting houses and
creating autonomous culture centers. In Hanau (Germany) the house
in Metzgerstrasse 8 was squatted in December 1986. Since that time
it has been used as an autonomous culture-center. It provides an
environment for different groups, projects, political events, concerts,
etc. From the beginning the squat was a thorn in the side of the
local city council. They decided in parliament that the center has
to be closed and torn down, but did not provide for an alternative.
In place of the squat, they planned to build five parking places
- a decision that is very symbolic as well as characteristic. Certainly
the real aim was to weaken the ideas and the structures this center
stands for, but until now they havent been able to accomplish
Avant-guard musician John Cage (1912-92) composed Five Hanau
Silence in October 1991 to support the squat and the aims
and values for which it stands. The original initiative was started
by the KomistA-collective, which created several projects in the
complex area of culture, society and change. The composition
was then realized by KomistA founders Claus Sterneck and Wolfgang
Sterneck, in April 1992. In the same year KomistA released a book
and record document, Silence, Consciousness and Change with
a realization of the composition and different articles and graphics
on subjects like music and silence, free spaces and social
rebellion, fantasy and consciousness. The re-release includes new
articles and live recordings of concerts in the culture center,
which represents the variety of counter-cultural music far away
from charts and star-attitudes.
John Cage was one of the most influential composers of the last
century. Inspired by a background of anarchist and Zen Buddhist
ideas, Cage broke through the rules and barriers of traditional
classical music to develop the theory and practice of a new non-hierarchical
music. Cage was responsible for the integration of sounds in music.
He developed new instruments and open composition forms, and involved
a new definition of silence. Moreover, Cage is viewed as the founder
of the Happening. The composition Five Hanau Silence
was created in a way that was typical of Cages ideas. First
a map of Hanau was divided into different areas. Then five locations
were chosen according to the principles of the Chinese oracle I-Ching.
In these locations recordings were made on particular dates and
times, which were then blended into a single recording.
One of the basic ideas of this kind of composition is to make
possible a new way of conscious hearing, which is closely related
being. Sounds that are not noticed in everyday life are relieved
of their original meaning and put into a new context. In this
they can become the subject of a new experience. At the same time
classical music is called into question. In Cage-like compositions
natural sounds, for example, can be heard with the same meaning
as tones of different traditional instruments. Regardless of the
instrument or the source, no sound has more meaning than another.
Theres no hierarchy - all sounds are equal.
At this point the anarchist conception of Cage converges with
the goal of the squatters to live a life without domination, the
ideas of KomistA and the structure of Five Hanau Silence.
In this meaning the explicit aim of the project is to support
squat. It forms a document of solidarity, a request to question
present ways of hearing, and consequently a change in the social
conditions that stand behind them.
To develop free spaces ...
John Cage, Claus Sterneck & Wolfgang Sterneck (Ed.) / Silence, Consciousness and Change.
KomistA; Hanau / Germany -.Book & 7-Record, 1992. - ISBN 3928988-00-X
firstname.lastname@example.org - www.sterneck.net/komista