Esther Ferrer and John Cage
Esther Ferrer and John Cage

In the summer of 1972, the American musician John Cage and the members of the Zaj Group met at Los Encuentros de Pamplona, an international art festival gathering more than 350 artists from a variety of disciplines: electronic art, performance, video art, poetry, painting, sculpture, film, and experimental music. Deeply impressed by Zaj’s groundbreaking ideas and social claims, he arranged a tour for them through USA and Canada in 1973. Thanks to Cage’s tour, the members of Zaj were able to meet people like American dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham. In 1978, Cage invited them to be part of Il Treno di John Cage (John Cage’s Train. In Search of Lost Silence), a three-day happening on wheels departing from the Bologna Centrale train station in Italy. As her mates took charge of the project’s sound, Ferrer set out to transform a coach by creating a maze of threads that connected the furniture and hindered passenger transit, thus making passengers part of the intervention. She became friends with Cage, whose creative ideas turned her world upside down. With Cage, Ferrer understood that every noise in this world, even silence, is music.

Esther Ferrer
El hilo del tiempo (The Thread of Time [action in the collective happening The John Cage Train. In Search of Lost Silence, trains from the Bologna rail network, 26-28 June 1978]), 1978
Gelatin silver print on paper
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
© Esther Ferrer, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía Photo Archive, Madrid