Miskatonic University Press

Duchamp, Cage, Moschen

john.cage juggling marcel.duchamp quotes

A quote from Juggling by Stewart Lawrence Sinclair, where Jay Gilligan is talking about Michael Moschen:

A juggler in the 1980s by the name of Michael Moschen would shift the paradigm again by crafting shows that were as much about creating compelling visuals and spectacles as they were about demonstrating virtuosity. Describing one of Michael’s routines in which he juggles three bounce-juggling balls against the interior walls of a massive triangle, Jay suggests that “Michael’s work did the same thing for juggling that John Cage did for music with his composition 4’33”, or Marcel Duchamp did for modern art,” transforming the practice from something that was thousands of years old to “something that’s brand new, and happening right now.”

I strongly disagree with that last bit. Duchamp transformed art and Cage transformed music, but neither art nor music had been static for thousands of years. For both men, the seventy-five or so years before their key works had been especially filled with new waves and revolutionary schools of thought and people throwing out old ways of working.

I don’t know enough about juggling to say whether Moschen has had the same effect, but the triangle routine (YouTube) is very far away from doing one person doing nine rings or two people passing clubs. He’s still throwing multiple balls there, but in this contact juggling routine (YouTube) he has one ball that never goes in the air.

Jay Gilligan posted Michael Moschen in Motion on YouTube; it’s a one-hour Great Performances shown on PBS in 1991, the year after he won a MacArthur Fellowship.