Serious Immobilities (Module 4 / Instrumental Version), Ari Benjamin Meyers
41m 35s, sound

“I have missed live performance so much this past year and a half: unique yet shared moments, never to be repeated. The absence, proscription in fact, of a physical audience - the temporal and spatial proximity, the temporary intimacy of bearing joint witness – leaves even now its trace. I don’t (for reasons perhaps obvious) usually release or record much of my music but for my contribution to OTO Sound Museum I wanted to offer something as a response to this moment, something I hope in retrospect more optimistic than nostalgic. This is a live performance from the archive, never before released, of Module 4 (in a version for two musicians) from my larger work Serious Immobilities, recorded at Kantine am Berghain in Berlin on March 6, 2014. The performers are Jan Terstegen (electric guitar) and Thomsen Merkel (electric bass). This recording is completely unedited (except for a fade out at the end). It’s all there, gloriously lo-fi, warts and all: the chatter of the sweaty crowd packed tightly into the space, the sound of the room, the beautiful mistakes. I hope you can smell it, imagine it, remember it. Do not use headphones for a better experience; turn up the speakers, even bad ones. Especially bad ones.
Start a band, if you haven’t done so already.”
Ari Benjamin Meyers

The artist and composer Ari Benjamin Meyers presents a recorded excerpt from his work Serious Immobilities (Module 4/Instrumental Version). The title is a quote from the introduction of the famous piece Vexations by Erik Satie: “In order to play the theme 840 times in succession, it would be advisable to prepare oneself beforehand, and in the deepest silence, by serious immobilities.” Meyers originally composed the ten music-performance modules of Serious Immobilities to be performed continuously over a span of 6 hours a day by 2 musicians and 4 singer/dancers for his first show at the gallery Esther Schipper (Berlin, 2013). What we hear in Meyers’ piece for OTO Sound Museum is Module No. 4, as played in 2014 in the famed Berlin space Kantine am Berghain by two musicians with whom the artist has often worked over the years. Conceived almost as a sculpture, the musicians play directly across from each other for 45 minutes, facing one another, repeating and shifting a cyclical and energetic musical phrase, in a dark and ritual atmosphere, witnessed by an absorbed audience that tightly surrounds them in the middle of the space. The musicians become tableaux vivants locked in a paradoxical immobility of pure repetitive intensity. They immerse themselves in their amplified sound, they merge into it, and we do it with them now years later, also questioning our ability to listen and visualize: the performance and its recording become today an evocative rite.

Ari Benjamin Meyers

Ari Benjamin Meyers (b. 1972, USA) lives and works in Berlin. Meyers received his training as a composer and conductor at The Juilliard School, Yale University, and Peabody Institute. Trading the concert format for that of the exhibition, his widely presented works – such as K Club (2019), Kunsthalle for Music (2018) and Symphony 80 (with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, 2017) – explore structures and processes that redefine the performative, social, and ephemeral nature of music as well as the relationship between performer and audience. His diverse practice features performances for the stage and for exhibition spaces as well as three operas including a commission for the Semperoper Dresden, a ballet for the Paris Opera, and most recently the experimental music-theater work Forecast (2021) for the Volksbühne Berlin. Meyers has often worked collaboratively and has realized multiple joint projects with artists such as Tino Sehgal, Anri Sala, and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, as well as with bands such as The Residents, Chicks on Speed, and Einstürzende Neubauten. A number of his works including the upcoming Rehearsing Philadelphia (various locations, 2022) and Werksorchester (Osten Festival Bitterfeld, 2022) as well as the ongoing The Long Parade (Beaufort Triennial, 2021) focus on the public and civic sphere and involve large-scale music-based communal rituals. Further recent solo exhibitions and presentations include K Club at MAAT, Lisbon (2021); Vexations II at Galerie Mehdi Chouakri/Esther Schipper, Berlin (2020); Solo at Yellow Solo, Berlin (2020); K Club at Blitz Club, Munich (2020); Ari Benjamin Meyers: Kunsthalle for Music at MCA Santa Barbara (2019); Tacet at Kunstverein Kassel (2019) and In Concert at OGR Turin (2019). His works have been shown internationally in institutions and festivals including at Urbane Künste Ruhr (2021); Kunstsammlung Gera (2021); Neues Museum Nürnberg (2020); Schering Stiftung, Berlin (2020); VAC Foundation, Moscow (2019); Frac Franche-Comté (2019); Pinault Collection, Punta della Dogana, Venice (2019); Liverpool Biennial (2018); Nowy Teatr, Warsaw (2018); Public Art Munich (2018); Witte de With, Rotterdam (2018); Sonic Somatic Festival, Florence (2018); Biennale de Lyon (2017); Spring Workshop, Hong Kong (2017); Lenbachhaus, Munich (2017) and Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2016). His artist book Tacet in Concert was published by Corraini Edizioni in 2019.

21 October – 20 November 2021

OTO SOUND MUSEUM constitutes in a collection of sound works. The recognition and conservation of works of intangible nature is one of the missions that characterized the museum since its foundation. The presentation of soundscapes in the museum marks their entry into the collection, which also becomes an archive for consultation available to anyone interested, including researchers, curators or institutions.

Serious Immobilities (Module 4 / Instrumental Version), 2013/2021
Ari Benjamin Meyers (1972, USA)

Turn up the speakers, even bad ones. Especially bad ones.

00:00 / 41m 35s, sound
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