Meredith Monk Likes the Look of Sasha Velour

Q. What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do? A. Reading all day 

View of cliffs from Meredith Monk’s home in Cañones, New Mexico, 2009. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Peter Sciscioli 

What keeps you company in the space where you work?
My tortoise, Neutron.

What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you? 
A sculpture by Alberto Giacometti.

If you could live with only one piece of art what would it be?
A Clemens Kalischer black and white photograph of displaced persons after World War II. I live with it now. 

What do you wish you knew?
Fluent Cantonese.

What is your favourite title of an artwork?
The Eye of a Rock (2019) by Alejandro Almanza Pereda.

What should change?
Cruelty and greed.  

What should stay the same?
Whatever laughter and kindness exist.

What was the first piece of music that really mattered to you?
Nat King Cole’s ‘Nature Boy’ (1948) and Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (1913).

What music are you listening to? 
Don Byron/Aruán Ortiz’s Random Dances and (A)Tonalities (2018), Pele Juju’s Pele Juju (1992) and Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil’s Dois Amigos, Um Século de Música: Multishow Live (Two Friends, One Century of Music, 2016).

What are you reading?
Autumn Light: Japan’s Season of Fire and Farewells (2019) by Pico Iyer, In Love with the World: A Monk’s Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying (2019) by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche with Helen Tworkov and I’m re-reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932).

What do you like the look of? 
The landscape of northern New Mexico; Sasha Velour.

This article first appeared in frieze issue 206 with the headline ‘Questionnaire: Meredith Monk’.

Meredith Monk is a composer, singer and interdisciplinary artist based in New York, USA. A pioneer in what is now called extended vocal technique, she has been performing and creating work for more than 50 years. In 2019, a restored film of her masterwork, Quarry: An Opera in Three Movements (1976), screened at Anthology Film Archives, New York. Monk’s newest music-theatre piece, Cellular Songs, premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in March 2018 and continues to tour internationally.

Issue 206

First published in Issue 206

October 2019

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