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JOHN CAGE TRIBUTE: Emanuel Pimenta

Emanuel Pimenta on John Cage and his introduction of Emanuel to William Anastasi and Dove Bradshaw: In 1988, I was with John Cage at his loft in New York City. I'd started collaborating with him and Merce two years before.

Loft, 1988 Kairos, 2011 John Cage Stones, 2011 Biography


In 1988, I was with John Cage at his loft in New York City. I'd started collaborating with him and Merce two years before. John prepared the lunch. As always, I was at his side, trying to help in something. We would receive two friends for lunch. John started describing those friends: great artists, great human beings, lovely people and so on. Their names: William Anastasi and Dove Bradshaw.

I walked with John from the kitchen to the leaving room, where it was the round table we would have the lunch. I asked John who was Anastasi. In that exact moment I violently stumbled on something. John took me by the arm. I was nearly to have a terrible fall. John became pale. He was not young and was afraid of accidents of the kind. I had stumbled on a sculpture, a beautiful steel plate, which was on the floor. I saw that John had become very disturbed. To ease things, I asked again who was William Anastasi. John looked at me and gave a delightful laugh saying: you just trip over him! Soon after, John told me that William Anastasi and I would become friends forever.

Moments later, Anastasi and Dove Bradshaw arrived. Both very beautiful, they looked much younger they were. In fact, John was right: we became friends forever. Over many years Dove and I collaborated on several projects for Merce Cunningham. Dove, Anastasi and I also had several projects in Europe. I dedicated various concerts to them.

John Cage passed away in 1992.

I once had a conversation with John about family. We loved to talk about the world. May 1968 had happened only about twenty years before. He said that family was one of the most important things in life. But to him the idea of family was not restricted to parents and children. The idea of family as a group of parents and children is a relatively new thing, which emerged in the Renaissance. Before, the word family included friends and people who lived in a same context. This was the true sense of the word family to John. And it was what we formed: a family... Emanuel Dimas de Melo Pimenta, Paris, 2012 .

Loft, 1988 In 1988 John Cage invited Emanuel Pimenta to make a photographic essay on his loft in New York City


Kairos, 2011 (15:00)


I was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1957. Among my first memories, when I was about two or three years old, it was an amazing tempest. Much later I would found an unexpected relation to Shakespeare’s play. My father was an amazing person. He was an inventor of time machines. When I told this to Takehisa Kosugi, when we were performing in France, he laughed and asked me if my father was able to travel in time. Perhaps not. Who knows? My father left more than two hundred patents, created a museum, wrote dozens of books, created an industry and so on. All this generated a problem to me. On one hand, he thought I would be an artist, and always treated me as a poor person, never giving me any help. On the other side, artists and people in the cultural world thought I was rich, and therefore guilty because of that. I was not one or other thing.

In 1985 I met John Cage. At that time, even being young, I already had concerts and events in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan. I’d dedicated my Concerts for Frogs and Crickets to John. He loved it. Quickly we started working together in New York City. We became close friends. He was one of the most wonderful persons I met in my life. His work was amazing, but his human dimension was not less. Since the beginning we both had clear that our compositions were very different, and we loved the difference. Now, so many years distant I question myself if they were so different as we thought.

There are many other things to say. I grew up between Brazil, Portugal and Switzerland, where my father – who was Portuguese – was deeply involved with Swiss clocks and watches production (he fluently spoke German and Italian, just as curiosity). In 1979 I lived for some time in the Amazonian forests, in aboriginal tribes, and then, in the same year, I worked on marketing in the United States: California, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. In the first months of 1986, Luciana and I moved from Brazil to Portugal. In 2003, from Portugal to Switzerland. In 1987, in Lisbon, I met the legendary Swiss art philosopher René Berger, and I started collaborating with him in the first video and electronic art festival of the world in Locarno, Switzerland, with Nan June Paik, Francis Ford Coppola, Edgar Morin and Bill Viola among many others. Soon René and I developed many other projects together. It was in 1991 I met Daniel Charles – another legendary personality – who had been pupil of Deleuze, Derrida, Levinas and Olivier Messiaen. John Cage and Daniel made For the Birds in the 1960s. In 1991 I also met the Baroness Lucrezia De Domizio Durini, who had been the most important reference to Joseph Beuys in his fifteen years of life. Lucrezia and I started collaborating in many projects in Italy – books, museums, art projects, concerts and so on.

So many things have happened... I started composing music inside virtual environments in the end of the 1970s. I studied with the celebrated German master Hans Joachim Koellreutter, pupil of Paul Hindemith, Hermann Scherchen and Marcel Moyse, and teacher of Luigi Nono and Tom Jobim among many others. In the early 1980s I coined the concept of virtual architecture and launched the first virtual planet of the world – anticipating Second Life in about twenty years. In 2008 I composed the first opera on Dante Alighieri. Between 1980 and 2011 I published more than fifty books, hundreds of papers, thirty compact discs, and I composed and recorded more than four hundred concerts. In 2004 I met Alberto del Genio – with him I created the Holotopia Academy, which is a project oriented to art, philosophy, music and culture, in the Amalfi Coast, in Italy. It is placed in an amazing location: where Homer described the meeting of Ulysses with the sirens.

So many things have happened in the last forty years! Having in mind only New York and John Cage – so many friends, so many magical moments! Laura Kuhn, Dove Bradshaw, William Anastasi, Chris Komar, David Vaugham, Bénédicte Pesle, Julie George, Patricia Lent, Robert Swinston, Michael Cole, Jasper Johns, Bob Raushenberg, Bob Ashley, Takehisa Kosugi, Michael Pugliese, David Behrman, Christian Wolff, John King, Margarete Roeder... I could be here a long time naming all them. The most important is the feeling behind – and, as John wished it – it is of a family. What the influence of John represented to me? In the beginning I thought that it was zero. Now, I see it was huge. Everything. I was in touch with his work since I was a boy. Anyway, we all are formations of everything and everybody. This is Earth, and this is what John and I always believed.


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