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 this.
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 to conscious
being. Sounds that are not noticed in everyday life are relieved
of their original meaning and put into a new context. In this way,
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 basic
ideas of KomistA and the structure of Five Hanau Silence.
In this meaning the explicit aim of the project is to support the
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
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