press release

Culturgest is pleased to announce Cornelius Cardew and the freedom of listening, an exhibition and program of events curated by Dean Inkster, Jean-Jacques Palix, Lore Gablier, and Pierre Bal-Blanc.

The English composer Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981) is undoubtedly one of the major composers to have emerged in the second half of the twentieth century. His radical approach to composition and his political reflection on the status of music making led him, in the late sixties, to instigate one of the most important attempts to establish the democratic claims of avant-garde culture. The Scratch Orchestra, which grew out of classes Cardew taught at Morley College (an adult education college in South London) in 1968, radically questioned the social limitations of art and music making as realms of specialized knowledge and experience. Combining both trained musicians and non-musicians, the Scratch Orchestra not only transgressed the traditional boundaries and hierarchy separating the composer, performer, and listener, but also the boundaries dividing the realm of art into separate fields.

Since 2006, the seventieth anniversary of his birth, interest in Cardew's work as a composer and political figure has gained a new momentum. In light of this interest, and in a historical moment when it is all to easy to sentimentalize "over the good old days of experiment and action," as one recent review of Cardew's writings has suggested, the exhibition Cornelius Cardew and the freedom of listening not only attempts to retrace the history of one of the most influential post-war twentieth century composers and the important avant-garde group he inspired, but also show why Cardew's example is needed "to shake us out of our current "complacency and despair."

Initiated by the Centre d'art contemporain de Brétigny in Spring 2009, before traveling to the Künstlerhaus in Stuttgart (September-November 2009), the exhibition brings together archives, photographs, scores, films and sound recordings generously loaned by Horace Cardew, IRCAM (Paris), The Modern Institute (Glasgow), Keith Rowe, Victor Schonfield, Stefan Szczelkun, Samon Takahashi, and Ruth Hilton. Throughout the program of events, various internationally renowned artists and musicians will be present at Culturgest to interpret Cardew's scores and respond to his work in a variety of forms, thus testifying to both the enduring vibrancy of Cardew's work as a major contribution to the history of experimental music and art and his current influence on contemporary artistic and musical practice.

Cornelius Cardew and the freedom of listening
Kuratoren: Dean Inkster, Jean-Jacques Palix, Lore Gablier, Pierre Bal-Blanc