In 1991, John Cage notated his project Museumcircle as follows: To make an exhibition in the museum (of a specific town) of articles from other museums (of the same town), hung or placed in chance-determined positions. To bring this about, each museum may offer to loan, say, a dozen objects. From this potential source, chance operations will be used to select the actual ones to be used. This simple but precise concept aims towards the complete dehierarchization of objects from a wide range of collections. The exhibition shows the loans non-chronologically, ahistorically, and decontextualized. The composer and artist thus withdrew the objects from the interpretive authority of museums, which is otherwise manifest in the arrangement, reconstruction, and valuation of historical artifacts and contexts.
In the late 1970s, taking the I Chingthe ancient Chinese Book of Changesas his point of departure, John Cage collaborated with the composer Andrew Culver to develop the so-called random generator, a computer-aided method to replace the casting of dice or a coin to arrive at random choices. Independent of epoch, format, material, or genre, a method such as this one also insists on the intrinsic esthetic nature of the individual object, in keeping with the notion of the objet trouvé. According to the artist, the Museumcircle is not an exhibition in the traditional sense, but rather a composition for a museum, a kind of quodlibet, a simultaneous sonority of the kind Cage used as far back as 1949. Subtly anarchical and at the same time liberating, already the title implies a roundelay in which several acts take place simultaneously. The show allows its visitors to decide entirely at their own discretion which objects they would like to pay particular attention to and, in the process, to experience whatever comparisons or analogies, dissonances, or even surprising coincidences that ensue for them.
On the occasion of this exhibition project by John Cage, the MUSEUM KFÜR MODERNE KUNST
is bringing all of Frankfurts museums together for the first time.