Meredith Monk’s interdisciplinary art sets all the senses singing in Amsterdam show

‘Meredith Monk: Calling’ at Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, is both a series of concerts and a deep-dive into Monk’s eclectic oeuvre

Black and white photo of magnifying glasses over eyes: from the exhibition Meredith Monk: Calling at Oude Kerk Amsterdam
(Image credit: 3) Meredith Monk, 16 Millimeter Earrings (1966). Photo Kenneth van Sickle)

‘Meredith Monk is a first-generation pioneer of interdisciplinary art,’ says Beatrix Ruf, director of Hartwig Art Foundation, which co-presents her new exhibition, ‘Meredith Monk: Calling’, alongside Oude Kerk Amsterdam. ‘From the very beginning, she brought together her self-developed unique voice technique – which merges the qualities of sound and movement, and connects ancient and traditional and especially spiritual singing techniques – with a unique way of using the performance space as a multi-sensual place of experiences.’

Monk’s unique talent is currently being celebrated in the exquisite setting of Oude Kerk, Amsterdam’s oldest building. The exhibition comprises a series of concerts, operas, installations and a deep-dive into Monk’s eclectic oeuvre. ‘She is intertwining movement, film, video, with an always-specific spatial design – and therefore lets the [various] media play in a new way together. Her work always also delves deeply into the human experience, connecting all its aspects and forms, from the grotesque to the spiritual. She is immensely influential to generations of artists; think of Björk, Peter Greenaway and many more.’

‘Meredith Monk: Calling’ at Oude Kerk, Amsterdam

Performers on white circular space, part of Meredith Monk exhibition

(Image credit: Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble, Indra's Net (2023), co-presented by Holland Festival and Hartwig Art Foundation. Photo Ada Nieuwendijk)

The immersive audio-visual experience intertwines live concerts with video and sound installations in performances that include Monk’s haunting Piano Songs, as well as a new piece (in March) that invites collaboration from members of the local community.

Frames from video installation

(Image credit: Oude Kerk Meredith Monk opening. Photo Maarten Nauw.)

The historical and cultural significance of the location adds an emotive layer to Monk’s performances, which resist easy clarification. ‘The Oude Kerk is of course a deeply impressive location, overwhelming us with space and light. It [has also seen] so many human histories, desires, and ways of expression. It is the perfect “stage” to allow for an exceptional encounter with almost 60 years of Meredith Monk’s work, offering the possibility to experience human conditions and the interconnectedness of being an individual, always in relation to a collective, [through] its space but also its history. The images and sound of works experienced with others, with the large installations in the open “singing” body of the church, and the individual experience with the installations in the intimate side chapels and built-in spaces allow us to move between worlds, to connect to multiple worlds.’

Performers acting in exhibition, Meredith Monk: Calling

(Image credit: 6) Meredith Monk, The Games (1984). Photo Paula Court)

What is Ruf most looking forward to visitors discovering in the all-encompassing invitation into Monk’s world? ‘Joy, contemplation and inspiration while experiencing the musical fabric filling the church, the installations and many additional materials provided in the show, to immerse yourself in the oeuvre of Meredith Monk, an artist who continues to surprise us.’ 

‘Meredith Monk: Calling’ is produced by Hartwig Art Foundation & Oude Kerk and runs until 17 March 2024,

The show is also running at Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany, until 3 March 2024

Meredith Monk artwork of woman with frame on head

(Image credit: Meredith Monk, 16 Millimeter Earrings (1966), performance at Judson Church NYC. Photo Diane Dorr-Dorynek)

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.