ReVIEWING Black Mountain College 12

International Conference

November 12-14, 2021

Thematic Focus: John Cage’s ideas and practices

The 12th Annual ReVIEWING Black Mountain College conference featured a thematic focus on the remarkable and far-reaching impact of John Cage’s ideas and practices. Cage was a radical thinker, composer, musician, collaborator, visual artist, writer, and Buddhist. His legacy in music, performance, and visual art is incalculable. Through Revisiting John Cage, BMCM+AC encourages expansive conversation on, and responses to, the composer’s works and influences through a broad and global perspective.

Keynote Address: A Conversation with Laura Kuhn, Director of the John Cage Trust

Laura Kuhn & Jeff Arnal (Executive Director, BMCM+AC) discuss the life and work of John Cage. Accompanied by a slideshow of rare photographs from the John Cage Trust.

Laura Kuhn is the executive director of the John Cage Trust, which she helped to found shortly after the composer’s death in 1992. Kuhn began working with Cage in 1986 on a variety of large-scale projects, completing her doctoral dissertation on Cage’s “Europeras” in 1992. From 1991 to 1996 she served as a founding faculty member of the Interdisciplinary Arts and Performance Program at Arizona State University West in Phoenix. In 2007, the John Cage Trust went into permanent residency at Bard College, where Kuhn became the first John Cage Professor of Performance Art. She has lectured and conducted performance workshops in venues as diverse as the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and Warsaw’s Museum of Modern Art. Other projects for the John Cage Trust have included a CD-ROM of sampled piano preparations from Cage’s composition, Sonatas & Interludes (1946-48), for use by MIDI keyboard musicians; an adaptation of Cage’s whimsical 1982 radio play, James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie: An Alphabet, to the stage; and a theatrical realization, under Kuhn’s direction, of Cage’s Lecture on the Weather, presented at Bard’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. Her most recent publications include The Selected Letters of John Cage (Wesleyan University Press, 2017) and Love, Icebox: Letters from John Cage to Merce Cunningham (John Cage Trust, 2019). Laura Kuhn received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles and has served as the John Cage Professor of Performance Art at Bard College since 2007.

John Cage, Fire 6, 1985. Burned and branded paper. The Johnson Collection

A public reception will be held on the opening night of ReVIEWING 12 (November 12), celebrating the exhibition Don’t Blame it on ZEN: The Way of John Cage & Friends (September 3, 2021 – January 8, 2022) curated by Jade Dellinger, Director of the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at FSW. As the exhibition title and John Cage’s own words make clear, Cage wished only “to free Zen of any responsibility for [his] actions,” yet his profound influence continues to be seen, heard, and experienced through his work and the work of friends and countless followers. Don’t Blame it on ZEN: The Way of John Cage and Friends presents works by Cage and his contemporaries including Nam June Paik, Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Robert Rauschenberg, and M.C. Richards as well as those deeply influenced by his work and teachings such as composer Matana Roberts, artist and performer Aki Onda, interdisciplinary artist Andrew Deutsch, and abstract turntablist Maria Chavez.

This public reception will include the world premiere of Waves and Particles, a new composition by John Luther Adams, performed by the JACK Quartet.  Admission if free + open to all, this performance will be simulcast to Vimeo.

The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center preserves and continues the legacy of educational and artistic innovation of Black Mountain College. We achieve our mission through collection, conservation, and educational activities including exhibitions, publications, and public programs. For more information, visit or call 828-350-8484.