If you can see the full text of “On Collaboration In Art,” David Shapiro’s conversation with John Cage, published in the Autumn 1985 issue, (No. 10) of Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics, perhaps you can tell me if it does, in fact, discuss Rauschenberg and Johns’ work on Short Circuit as the web-based search appears to indicate?
On Collaboration in Art: A Conversation with David Shapiro
David Shapiro and John Cage
RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics
No. 10 (Autumn, 1985), pp. 103-116 [jstor.org]
update: Thanks to greg.org readers B and G, we know the answer is yes, yes it does, and wow, very interesting. Here is Shapiro asking his friend Cage about Black Mountain and how he perceives collaboration:
DS: So collaboration also implied simultaneity?
JC: That’s all it really means to me.
DS: Two things happening at the same time.
JC: That is their relationship.
DS: Bob Rauschenberg often seems optimistic, inclusive, as if he’s marrying the whole world, like permitting Jasper Johns’s flag to be inside a larger sculpture. It seems like a sign of generosity. He sometimes seems generous in his collaborative spirit. You don’t think of it as necessarily emotionally generous to collaborate? Is it not a sign of charity?
JC: No. It’s a willingness to have your work experienced at the same time other work is experienced. I’m being careful not to use the expression “willingness to come together,” because there’s no coming together really. It’s two different different things that if they do come together at all, they come together where Marcel [Duchamp] said a work of art was completed, in the observer. But the two people who are collaborating are not observers until they can be. Then, when they are observers, they’re no longer collaborators.
I was going to add italics for the rather salient language these folks were using, but well, where to stop?
Hirshhorn curator Cynthia McCabe was there, too, and Shapiro’s wife, the architect Lindsay Stamm Shapiro. McCabe really wanted Short Circuit for the Hirshhorn’s 1985 exhibition, “Artistic Collaboration in the Twentieth Century”:
CM: We just had a very sad experience looking at the Rauschenberg Short Circuit that Jasper had done with him and Susan Weill [sic]. It’s now in a state of real disrepair. It’s so important for this exhibition.
LS: Where is it?
DS: It’s in Rauschenberg’s studio, but Johns’s flag had been stolen at the place. It had been shown at Finch College. It is like a wing to an altarpiece, and inside was a Susan Weill. I’m sure you’ve seen it.
CM: There was a little sticker in there, I’m trying to think of which was the work, it says “Cage.”
DS: Yes, it has a little collage mentioning a performance that you had done. I think with David Tudor. When David Tudor does chord clusters in the record indeterminacies, was that collaborative or completely mapped out by you, so he’s the performer?
JC: He’s playing the Solo for Piano from the Concert for Piano and Orchestra.