Cover of 'There Will Never be Silence' available on MoMA/MoMA PS1 Record label. Image courtesy of Marek Polewski

MoMA and MoMA PS1 To Release “There Will Never Be Silence,” An Album That Pays Tribute to John Cage’s 4’33”

Posted on September 15, 2014

The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 will release There Will Never Be Silence, an album that pays homage to both John Cage and the MoMA exhibition There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4’33” (2013–14). The album will launch on September 27 at the New York Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1 in a uniquely designed edition of 500. In a 1954 letter that Cage wrote regarding his so-called “silent piece” 4’33” (1952), he stated “the piece is not actually silent (there will never be silence…).” Sixty years following Cage’s letter, the debut album from the newly created MoMA/MoMA PS1 Records reconsiders silence, the lack of silence, and the status of recorded sound. Organized by David Platzker, Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints, MoMA, and Jenny Schlenzka, Associate Curator, MoMA PS1, the double LP features four compositions presented as artistic answers to Cage by artists Kevin Beasley, Lizzi Bougatsos, Sabisha Friedberg, and Yasunao Tone.

The four artists on the record come from diverse artistic and generational backgrounds. Their works provide an insight into the modalities of current sound production and shed light on how far Cage’s ideas about sound and its intrinsic relationships to the environment have progressed in diverging directions; in some cases the affinity to Cage is more conscious, in others less. Where Lizzi Bougatsos (American, b. 1974), a visual artist and singer/drummer for bands Gang Gang Dance and I.U.D., takes the listener on a personal, disjointed sonic journey, the sculptor Kevin Beasley (American, b. 1985) records a work—originally performed in MoMA’s Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium in 2012—in which he processes a cappella voices of dead rappers and tests their sonic materiality for political relevance. The 78-year-old Fluxus artist Yasunao Tone (Japanese, b. 1936), a contemporary and collaborator of Cage’s, delivers the most “unsilent” recording on the album: by coaxing monstrous sounds out of MP3 processing mechanisms—a ubiquitous yet inaudible part of everyday audio devices—he continues his relentless endeavor of freeing sounds from representation. Cage’s axiom of indeterminacy is perhaps taken furthest by sound artist Sabisha Friedberg (South African). Inspired by an encounter with Cage as a young student, she has altered the actual surface of the vinyl to address the aspect of applied chance and listening. Sections of low frequencies and silences are punctuated with in-between spaces and a concentric groove, so that the stylus’s movement is not necessarily progressive or linear. As a result, the record sounds different every time it is played.

The record is now available for presale orders online at momastore.org and will be available soon at The Museum of Modern Art book store. The record, designed by Marek Polewski and Neven Cvijanovic of Floor5, Berlin is a limited edition of 500 copies and retails at $40.00.

MoMA and MoMA PS1 To Release “There Will Never Be Silence,” An Album That Pays Tribute to John Cage’s 4’33”


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