Ultra-red’s SILENT|LISTEN (2005-06) consists of a series of events in which statements addressing the AIDS epidemic are presented alongside Cage’s silent composition 4′33″ (1952). Ultra-red’s intervention refers to activist collective ACT UP’s militantly anti-homophobic slogan, “SILENCE = DEATH,” while implicating the cultural politics of Cagean silence, 4′33″’s contested status as part of an historically specific strategy of queer resistance deployed during McCarthyism. Turning on the music-formal problem of Werktreue, or “faithfulness” to an original score, SILENT|LISTEN is considered alongside the appropriation art strategies of AIDS activism and against recent theoretical attempts to bracket out “sound” from the historical and formal specificity of musical practice.

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