Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy 70th, Meredith Monk!

I'm wishing a grand, happy birthday to Meredith Monk who got the surprise of a charming little cake last evening at Danspace Project but really gave us all the most beautiful gift.

The special program, Pioneer Days, part of Danspace's PLATFORM 2012: Judson Now programming, included a screening of filmmaker Robert Withers' reconstruction of Monk's breakthrough 16 Millimeter Earrings Judson Memorial Church performance of 1966, filmed excerpts from the transcendent site-specific Songs of Ascension (2008), and reworked selections from pieces from the early '70s, constructing mosaics out of choice, unearthed shards from the past. The early Monk prepared the way for artists who now readily cross boundaries of genre and modalities and for audiences hungry for immersion in total experience and stimulation of all modes of perception.

Her art is more than voice, but even just her voice--or, rather, voices swooping, stretching, ululating, mewing, fluttering in rapid succession--can entice listeners to journey. Monk reminded us that her project is to heal the unnatural rifts between the arts unique to the modern Western approach and to counter our tendency to rely upon secondary experiences through cyberspace. Instead, she would have us engage with the "blood, guts and nerves" of live art where "we're all in the same space at the same time."

"Nothing can substitute for that," says this sage and shaman.

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