John Cage’s work deals heavily with the perception of and reaction to art. The exhibition Opening Spaces for Action engages contemporary artists and curators to contribute to this discourse in a performative, international context. Not all of the artistic viewpoints expressed attempt to trace a direct line back to Cage; instead, they strive to create new experiences through art. A key starting point is the question: what constitutes a work of art? The artists experiment with this question, with the temporal component of art, with the idea of reenactment, and even with format of the exhibition itself. The process remains open for the duration of the exhibition and is continuously changed and expanded.
What defines a work of art? Who is an author? What is authentic? What are the expectations and conditions involved in the presentation of art? For Cage, these were more than just simple topics; he challenged the audience with these questions, and by doing this, expanded the possibilities immensely. In his works, conscious perception of reality, and the experience that results, are central. He works systematically (as well as playfully) with the interplay between artistic intention and the happenings and interruptions of daily life. The result of this is a probing exploration of the potential within art itself.
The exhibition uses a varying, interactive set-up to illuminate these themes. The normal way of experiencing art, where the audience passively visits a static display, is turned on its head: the audience takes an active role in the reception of the art. The uniqueness of a certain visit, since the art is always changing; performances; outreach programs; and works all contribute to this effect. The exhibition also uses the variable architecture of the new building of the Gallery of Contemporary Art Leipzig to connect the outdoors with the doors, to allow works to interfere and to interact with one another. Last but not least, the exhibition emphasizes the importance of the audience in receiving and interpreting works of art.