Meredith Monk: Calling celebrates the visionary work of artist Meredith Monk and takes visitors on a multidimensional journey that blurs the boundaries between visual art, music, and performance. The exhibition translates her live music-theater pieces and concerts into encounters with immersive video- and sound installations in the alcoves and open public space of the 700-year old church.
Living legend Meredith Monk has dedicated her career to exploring the potential of the human voice. The presentation is a unique retrospective of her influential performance practice in which she has constantly sought harmony between the spiritual, the earth, and human existence.
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.
Ancient and contemporary
The sound of Monk's singing is often described as ancient and contemporary at the same time. 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 influential work in voice, music, staged performances and film into an experience beyond the stage.
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 a body of archived stories, sharing her sound pieces and documentaries, scores and drawings; featuring, in particular, material from Indra's Net, her most recent work which premiered in June 2023 Amsterdam as a co-presentation of Holland Festival and Hartwig Art Foundation.
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.
21 Oct. 2023, 8 p.m: Opening concert, Meredith Monk with Katie Geissinger and Allison Sniffin
1 Dec. 2023 and 16 Feb. 2024: Piano Songs
15, 16 and 17 March 2024: A Celebration Service
Ticket sales for the concerts are scheduled to begin at the end of September 2023.
Meredith Monk: Calling is a co-presentation of Oude Kerk Amsterdam and Hartwig Art Foundation. Curated by Beatrix Ruf, director Hartwig Art Foundation, the exhibition 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 (21 Oct. 2023 – 17 March 2024), and at the Haus der Kunst in Munich (10 Nov. 2023 – 3 March 2024).
Meredith Monk 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. 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.