|International Arts Initiatives and Chan Centre for the Performing Arts in association with LIVE Biennial of Performance Art
Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble
"I work in between the cracks, where the voice starts dancing, where the body starts singing“
With other radical artists of the 1960s, Monk pioneered the use of multi-media in performance, and she continues to experiment with new technologies and materials to create powerful images in her work. Inspired by cultures where performance is considered a spiritual discipline with healing and transformative power, she has sought to re-establish the unity that underlies music, theatre, and dance.
Monk is a pioneer in site-specific performance, creating works such as Juice: A Theater Cantata In 3 Installments (1969) and most recently American Archeology #1: Roosevelt Island (1994). She is also an accomplished filmmaker who has made a series of award-winning films including Ellis Island (1981) and her first feature, Book Of Days (1988), which was aired on PBS, shown at the New York Film Festival and selected for the Whitney Museum's Biennial. A retrospective art exhibition, Meredith Monk: Archeology of an Artist, opened at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center in 1996. Other recent art exhibits are comprised of a major installation, Art Performs Life at The Walker Art Center, a show "Shrines" at the Frederieke Taylor / TZ' Art Gallery, inclusion in the 2002 Biennial at the Whitney Museum, ev +a 2002 Exhibition at Limerick City Gallery of Art and a group exhibit Show People at Exit Art. A monograph, Meredith Monk, edited by Deborah Jowitt was released by Johns Hopkins Press in 1997.
In October 1999 Monk performed a Vocal Offering for His Holiness, the Dalai Lama as part of the World Festival of Sacred Music in Los Angeles. In July 2000 her music was honored by a three concert retrospective entitled Voice Travel as part of the Lincoln Center Festival. Her latest music theatre work, mercy, a collaboration with visual artist, Ann Hamilton, premiered at the American Dance Festival in July 2001.
The voice has always been at the center of Meredith Monk’s work. A pioneer in what is now called extended vocal technique, Monk has dazzled, startled, provoked and delighted audiences since the 1960s with her visionary work. Together with the award winning Vocal Ensemble, Monk has composed and performed music for the voice as a multi-faceted instrument, expanding the boundaries of traditional vocal music.
They have performed at leading concert halls around the world including Carnegie Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, and Cologne Philharmonie, among others. The Ensemble’s artists come from diverse cultural backgrounds including Asian-, African-, European-and Latin-American heritages. The artistic traditions and backgrounds, which they represent, are equally diverse, ranging from Chinese and Western opera, to Broadway and musical theatre, to all forms of movement theater and interdisciplinary performance.
For Monk, the voice is a language in itself, which can delineate energies and feelings for which we have no words. She has invented a stunning vocabulary including her characteristic ululations, multi-phonics, whispers, slides, range skips and hockets. Her wordless music combines the technical virtuosity of classical music, the poignancy and directness of folk music and the freedom and flexibility of jazz improvisation.
“Its most striking feature is the unearthly form of primal song that Monk has evolved: I’d call it an incantation.”