Program Type: 
Community Engagement
John Cage's Queer Silence

A Lecture by Jonathan D. Katz

October 27, 2012
Screening Room


John Cage’s Queer Silence
Sat, Oct 27  •  2pm*
Screening Room
$10 Regular
$5 YBCA members

*Please note time — it was stated incorrectly as 8pm in some listings

Curator and scholar Jonathan D. Katz (Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture) delivers a lecture entitled “John Cage’s Queer Silence” on John Cage, the closet, and silence. If Cage’s famed celebration of silence in his work was in part an expression of his identity as a closeted gay man during the Cold War, Katz argues that it was also much more than that. For Cage, silence was not only a symptom of his oppression; it was also, he argues, his chosen mode of cultural resistance. Through re-contextualizing the silences in Cage's music, lectures, writings, and collaborations with his partner Merce Cunningham, the composer's commitment to a particular vision of social justice is revealed. A Q&A follows the lecture.

This reception and many other amazing events are FREE and exclusive to YBCA:You participants. Want to be a part of it? Find out more »

YBCA:You participants are then invited to a reception with Dr. Katz featuring a curated tasting menu of mushroom-based foods by artist-chef, Yasmin Golan (Calico Pie, Queer Food For Love) who will use Cage's mycology obsession as a point of reference.

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  • John Cage's Queer Silence — A Lecture by Jonathan D. Katz
    Oct 27, 2012 1:00pm
    Screening Room
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Related Programs

October 28, 2012 - 1:00pm
YBCA Forum

YBCA and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players present a new production of John Cage’s musical carnival Musicircus in celebration of his 100th birthday. This free all-day event also features food carts, student performances, and a self-guided sound walk.

October 28, 2012 - 2:00pm
Screening Room

Tracing the history of their renowned collaboration, the film explores the artistic and philosophical associations that Cage and Cunningham have had with a wide range of leading figures in the art, literary, dance and music worlds. (1991, 100 min, digital)

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Artist Bio

Jonathan D. Katz was co-curator with David Ward of Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, the first queer exhibition ever mounted at a major US museum, which opened at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in 2010, then traveled to the Brooklyn Museum and the Tacoma Art Museum. Hide/Seek received the 2011 Best National Museum Exhibit award from the US section of the International Association of Art Critics and a Stonewall Award from the American Library Association for its accompanying book. He directs the doctoral program in Visual Studies at the University at Buffalo and is presently completing a new book, The Silent Camp: Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and the Cold War, to be published by the University of Chicago Press. His next major exhibition, entitled ArtAIDSAmerica, will travel to four museums nationally in 2015-16, funded in part by a Warhol Foundation grant. Previously, Katz was a Terra Foundation Senior Fellow at London's Courtauld Institute of Art. As an associate professor at Yale University (2002-06), he was founding director of its Lesbian and Gay Studies Program, the first in the Ivy League. A pioneering scholar, in 1990, he was the first full-time American academic to be tenured in the field of gay and lesbian studies at City College of San Francisco and founded and chaired both the Harvey Milk Institute, then the largest queer studies institute in the world, and the Queer Caucus for Art of the College Art Association. He also co-founded Queer Nation, San Francisco, and the Gay and Lesbian Town Meeting, the organization that successfully lobbied for queer anti-discrimination statutes in the city of Chicago. He is the president and chief curator of the new Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York City.

YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
Abundance Foundation
Koret Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
Lam Research

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.

Community Engagement and Youth Education Programs are made possible in part by:
The Bernard Osher Foundation, The Sato Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Panta Rhea Foundation, The Kimball Foundation, U.S. Bank, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Special Innovation Projects in 12-13 supported, in part, by generous grants from:
Association of Performing Arts Presenters and MetLife Foundation All-In: Re-imagining Community Participation Program, and EmcArts’ Innovation Lab for Museums in partnership with AAM’s Center for the Future of Museums and MetLife Foundation