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Monk transforms the space into a singing body and immerses the audience in an audio-visual experience created especially for the Oude Kerk. Her artistic practice and the history of the Oude Kerk share an important characteristic: improvisation as a guide for transformation. The current form of the church did not emerge from a fixed concept, but through an organic process of improvisation and adaptation to the needs of the time, just like Monk's compositions, which arise through improvisation and are fluid, with different pieces forming the building blocks of larger compositions.
The sound of Monk’s singing is often described as ancient and contemporary, and thus fits seamlessly with the Oude Kerk as both Amsterdam’s oldest building and place for contemporary art. Her groundbreaking vocal work, music, theater performances and films find a natural home in the Oude Kerk as Amsterdam's oldest building and venue for contemporary art. The exhibition aims at bringing her groundbreaking work in voice, music, staged performances and film into an experience beyond the stage with works translating her theatrical pieces into encounters with immersive video- and sound installations in the alcoves and open public space of the 700-year-old church.
Key works such as 2008's Songs of Ascension, Quarry (1976) and ATLAS (1991) will be updated as as new installations for the Oude Kerk. Especially for Amsterdam, the interactive installation American Archaeology (1998) will be updated as a local version. Visitors are invited to bring and add meaningful objects to the work to build a monument of collective memories. At the same time, Monk plays with the idea of the church as an archive, sharing for the first time unpublished sound pieces, scores, drawings; featuring, in particular, material from Indra's Net, her most recent work. Monk is also developing a retrospective series of live concerts for the Oude Kerk performed by a new generation of local musicians.
As an integral part of the show, a series of live concerts is scheduled. The concerts will connect Monk’s profound legacy to the Oude Kerk while also passing it on to a new generation of musicians. On 21 October 2023, Monk will present one of her rarest and most intimate concerts together with two renowned members of her Vocal Ensemble (Katie Geissinger and Allison Sniffin). On 1 December 2023 and 16 February 2024, Monk's famous Piano Songs will be heard. The final weekend will feature a live performance of A Celebration Service. Look here for more information and tickets.
Meredith Monk (b. 1942, New York) is considered the great pioneer of extended vocal technique and interdisciplinary performance, the genre that emerged in New York's artist community in the 1960s and 1970s. One of the defining characteristics of Monk’s compositions and performances is her highly distinctive use of the human voice. Her pioneering compositional work and performances have received numerous awards, including a National Medal of Arts, the highest award in the United States given specifically for achievement in the arts.
Meredith Monk: Calling in Amsterdam is curated by Beatrix Ruf, director Hartwig Art Foundation, and is developed in close collaboration with Meredith Monk and The House Foundation for the Arts. This first survey of Meredith Monk’s oeuvre is a collaboration in two acts: at the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam, together with Hartwig Art Foundation (Oct. 21, 2023 — March 17, 2024), and the Haus der Kunst in Munich (Nov. 10, 2023 — March 3, 2024).