Asheville, North Carolina: BMC
John Cage taught composition at Black Mountain College during the summers of 1948 and 1952, and was in residence there during the summer of 1953. In his Theater Piece No. 1, performed at the college in August 1952, Cage himself stood on a ladder delivering a lecture that included silences; Merce Cunningham and other dances moved through the audience; David Tudor played the piano; Robert Rauschenberg suspended his white painting; Charles Olson and M.C. Richards read poems from ladders, a movie was projected; and a windup phonograph played records. The performance is often considered the first Happening: a performative, often nonlinear and improvisatory artistic event that engages the audience. Its name was coined in 1957 by Allan Kaprow, a former student of Cage’s.
Image: Hazel Larsen Archer, "John Cage at Black Mountain College" c. late 1940s. Courtesy of the Estate of Hazel Larsen Archer and the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center