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Witte de With turned into a contemporary space for the live exhibition of musical works
Opening Kunsthalle for Music on Thursday 25 January 2018 at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam. Photo: Nieuwe Beelden Makers.

ROTTERDAM.- From 25 January 2018 till 3 March 2018, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art has been turned into the Kunsthalle for Music, a contemporary space for the live exhibition of musical works.

“Music is not necessarily what you think it is. Can we imagine a space for music that exists outside of any media and beyond the stage? A space for un-recordable music, music of undefined duration, existing even when no audience is present? A dissolution of performer and audience, of rehearsal and performance? How can we imagine contemporary music, composition, and music performance as contemporary art today?” — from Ari Benjamin Meyers’ manifesto for the Kunsthalle for Music.

Kunsthalle for Music is a project by Ari Benjamin Meyers investigating what it means to create a new institution for music in an art context today. Departing from historical precedents situated at the cross-section of music and visual art, Kunsthalle for Music instantiates — for the first time —a ‘musical situation’ in which the ensemble itself, and their enacting of performance-based repertoire, wholly constitutes the exhibition.

The Kunsthalle for Music ensemble forms the heart of the Kunsthalle for Music, consisting of eight musician-performers. An open-call for musicians of all types, backgrounds and skill-levels resulted in the following ensemble: Bergur Thomas Anderson (guitar), Billy Bultheel (piano), Sandhya Daemgen (violin and voice), Sara Hamadeh (violin), Alexander Iezzi (drums and percussion), Nanna Ikonen (saxophone and electronics), Jackson Moore (saxophone), and Pau Marquès i Oleo (cello).

The ensemble performs newly commissioned works by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Jonathan Bepler, Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson, and The Residents. Over the course of the exhibition each of the commissioned artists work on-site, activating their scores directly with the ensemble in both rehearsals and performances open to the public. Each commission is incorporated as part of Kunsthalle for Music’s evolving repertoire. For secondary school groups, Andre Heuvelman develops a special education commission.

Kunsthalle for Music repertoire comprises a diverse range of existing and adapted pieces contributed by artists and composers including Wojtek Blecharz, Tim Etchells, Peter Fengler, Hassan Khan, Sora Kim, Yoko Ono, Anri Sala, Superflex, and Guido van der Werve amongst others. The exhibition also includes a number of Meyers’ performance-based music works.

Founding of the Kunsthalle for Music
The Kunsthalle for Music is commissioned by Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (Rotterdam) together with Spring Workshop (Hong Kong). An exposition, not an exhibition by Ari Benjamin Meyers unfolded the Kunsthalle’s foundational themes at Spring Workshop (11 March - 1 April 2017), taken up by Music is Not! A Symposium On and Around the Kunsthalle for Music at Witte de With (26-27 May 2017), with contributions by Armen Avanessian (Philosopher, Literary & Political Theorist), Victoria Ivanova (Writer and Curator), Peter Osborne (Professor of Modern European Philosophy), Francois Quintin (Director, Lafayette Anticipations), Marie-France Rafael (Art Historian), Jörn Schafaff (Art Historian), and Lisette Smits (Curator), amongst others.

Ari Benjamin Meyers
Ari Benjamin Meyers (1972, US) is the founding director of the Kunsthalle for Music. In his work, he explores structures and processes that redefine the performative, social, and ephemeral nature of music. Meyers trained as a composer and conductor at The Juilliard School, Yale University, and The Peabody Institute. Selected solo exhibitions and projects include: Who’s Afraid of Sol La Ti?, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2016); Symphony 80, Lenbachhaus, Munich (2017); and Solo for Ayumi, Esther Schipper, Berlin (2017). He recently participated in the 14th Biennale de Lyon and will participate in the upcoming Liverpool Biennial. Selected collaborations include Ravel, Ravel, French Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale (2013) with Anri Sala; and This Variation, Documenta 13 (2012), with Tino Sehgal. Meyers was Music Director of the staged group show Il Tempo del Postino curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Philippe Parreno (Manchester International Festival, 2007 and Art Basel, 2009). Ari Benjamin Meyers lives and works in Berlin.

Commissioned Artists
Jonathan Bepler (1959, US) is a composer who has worked extensively in collaborative and site-specific contexts. His wide-ranging techniques include improvisation, conduction, and alternative notations, and he often engages unexpected performers. Frequent collaborators include choreographers Sasha Waltz and John Jasperse, and artist Matthew Barney. He has been guest professor at Karlsruhe University of Art and Design since 2015.

Libia Castro (1970, ES) and Ólafur Ólafsson (1973, ISL) are collaborative artists based in Rotterdam and Berlin. Formed in 1997, their artistic practice – executed across media and a variety of genres and disciplines, from political history, through gender studies and sociology – concentrates on the phenomena of exclusion and exploitation within an injured world of non-belonging and denied participation.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (1965, FR) practice is restlessly cross-disciplinary, taking cues from film, literature, architecture, philosophy and critical theory. Through immersive installations that include film or are suggestive of filmic tropes, Gonzalez-Foerster uses the medium of experience as a way to question the essences of objects and the meaning of context. Often relying on elliptical texts that place equal weight on fiction, fact, and the pluralism of memory, Gonzalez-Foerster creates heterogeneous worlds that thrive on the tension between finite and infinite, the empirical and the dramaturgical.

The Residents are an American art collective and rock band best known for avant-garde music and multimedia works. Their musical output usually falls within two categories: deconstructions of Western popular music, and complex conceptual pieces composed around a theme, theory, or plot. The Residents have been regarded as icons in the world of experimental music for over forty years and to this day their members remain anonymous.

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