Variations on a Theme by Saint-Saëns, 3rd Annual Avant Garde Festival of New York, Judson Hall, New York
This picture captures the performance of Variations on a Theme by Saint-Saens (1964) by Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman held at the 3rd Annual Avant-Garde Festival of New York in 1965. Wearing a transparent cellophane gown, Moorman begins to play the first few bars of The Swan by Camille Saint-Saëns; abruptly, she puts down her cello and walks across the stage to a large oil drum filled with water. She climbs a stepladder to the rim of the drum where she perches briefly before lowering herself into the water until she is completely submerged. With the dress and hair dripping wet, Moorman returns to her seat to finish The Swan. Paik at the foreground holding the drum is assisting Moorman in climbing up and down the drum. Paik once wrote that there were so many works of music that he wanted to listen to in the last day of his life, including John Cage’s Winter Music played by David Tudor, the second movement of Beethoven’s Spring Sonata, and Saint-Saëns’ The Swan played by Moorman.
black & white photograph on baryta paper
Nam June Paik (artist); Charlotte Moorman (performer)