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Photo And Caption Of The Day

March 11, 2012

From The Wire 336

“She played a block of ice like a cello. She was naked, and there were heaters to melt the ice. I was quite bored.”

— Steve Beresford on Charlotte Moorman

I had heretofore never heard of Charlotte Moorman, but I thought the quote (from The Wire magazine) was quite brilliant.

Turns out she died in 1991 and was pretty famous for unattractively playing nude cello:

Charlotte Moorman, the cellist, avant-gardist and performance artist who won notoriety for her arrest by the New York City police in 1967 for playing the cello nude from the waist up, died yesterday in Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan.

She was called “The Jeanne d’Arc of New Music” by the composer Edgard Varese. Ms. Moorman was arrested on Feb. 9, 1967, by two policemen who interrupted her performance at the Cinematheque in Manhattan of “Opera Sextronique” by Nam June Paik, a composer, video artist and performance artist. She was performing nude, as the score had dictated, before an audience of 200 invited guests. Although Mr. Paik was released from custody and not charged, Ms. Moorman was tried and convicted for partial nudity. Later, the sentence was suspended.

Some of Ms. Moorman’s best-known pieces, many of them deemed to be scandalous at the time they were performed, are “Cello Sonata No. 1 for Adults Only” in 1965; “TV Bra for Living Sculpture,” in 1969, in which she wore a bra made of two small television sets; “Global Groove,” a video performance in 1973, and a 1971 Nam June Paik piece, popularly known as “The TV Cello,” in which Ms. Moorman played a cello made out of three television sets, to which strings had been attached.

When it comes to semi-clothed musicians, I have to say that I’m more of a Wendy O. Williams kind of guy, but I respect the effort.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2012 2:54 pm

    I remember hearing about this woman. Part of the New York avant-garde. And then forgot about her until now. I was warned about LSD flashbacks.

  2. March 11, 2012 6:24 pm

    Interesting that Edgard Varese was a fan. He was a huge influence on Frank Zappa. Nice link to Wendy O. Williams!

    • March 11, 2012 7:41 pm

      Who was better than Wendy O?

      Is Mr. Varese related to the Varèse Sarabande label? I vaguely remember it from my Disc-o-Mat days.

  3. March 11, 2012 9:42 pm

    The only person better than Wendy O. that springs to mind is Joan Jett, at least for me! I think they just used his name for that record label, but I could be wrong. I just know he was one of Zappa’s heroes.

  4. March 12, 2012 10:29 am

    not my cuppa, but I bet the “cello” found her comely…

  5. March 12, 2012 10:52 am

    I’ve always liked the block of ice stand-up bass.

    • March 12, 2012 10:55 am

      Speaking of which, I’ve decided I’m going to start playing the bass. I want to play an upright, but someone who actually plays an instrument suggested starting with electric and then moving from there.

  6. Caroline Kingsley permalink
    December 7, 2012 9:39 pm

    Probably exactly her point that pigs like you even decades later would judge her on the attractiveness on her body and not her work to further the art world. Have fun whacking off to Wendy.

    • December 7, 2012 9:56 pm

      Thanks for stopping by. For the record, I always judged Wendy O. Williams on her electrical tape, not on her body.

    • December 7, 2012 11:26 pm

      Oh, and it’s a little impolite to just show up someplace and start calling people pigs. But I guess that’s experimental and edgy.

  7. December 8, 2012 5:57 pm

    Oink, oink.

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