Tuesday, September 16th, 2008
Today, forty-five years ago, musician John Cale performed Erik Satie’s Vexations once in the television program “I’ve Got a Secret,” a weekly show of CBS Television in America. This happened only a couple of days after the legendary performance of Vexations organized by John Cage. That concert lasted 18 hours and 40 minutes, and was groundbreaking. To date, it is considered to be the first public-complete performance of Satie’s composition. Cale was one of ten painists playing that night (the concert began on September 9, 1963). A couple of days later, The New York Times covered the performance with a diary-like report and documentary images almost taking the entire front page of the paper. The Paris-based Satie specialist, Ornella Volta, who directs the Archives Erik Satie, is currently working on a catalogue raisonné of Vexations performances. Among the several she has pointed out during informal conversations held over the course of this summer is the one in 1979 by Canadian artist Rober Racine. The abacus-like counter that Racine used in his performance to keep track of the 840 repetitions of this composition is included in the exhibition Archaeology of Longing.