This Hayward Touring exhibition is a celebration of the visual art of the American composer, writer and artist John Cage (1912–1992). Following an acclaimed tour around the country, the Hayward Project Space will present an abridged version of the exhibition featuring forty to fifty of Cage's works on paper. The exhibition was conceived by artist Jeremy Millar, and organised by Hayward Touring in collaboration with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and the John Cage Trust.
This display presents works on paper spanning his whole visual art career, including his extraordinary Ryoanji series, described by the art critic David Sylvester as 'among the most beautiful prints and drawings made anywhere in the 1980s'. In these works he drew around the outlines of stones scattered (according to chance) across the paper or printing plate, in one case drawing around 3,375 individually placed stones. He also experimented with burning or soaking the paper, and applied complex, painstaking procedures at each stage of the printmaking process.
Inspired by John Cage's own practice, the exhibition differs markedly from a conventional show. The work will be selected and hung according to chance operations, using a computer-generated random number programme similar to the Chinese oracle, the 'I Ching', which is essentially a random number programme. This will result in works being hung at different heights and in arrangements and groupings that no curator would ordinarily choose. Cage himself, who disliked linear displays, employed this method in several exhibitions, notably Rolywholyover, in Los Angeles in 1992, which he described a 'composition for museum'.