Entering the world of Meredith Monk is equivalent to diving into a baptismal font. Each path that the visionary artist opens, be it visual, sound or epidermal, leads to the essence, to something deeply personal: its impact transcends one’s own DNA in a rebirth and makes real the mystical sentence that “everything is connected.”

In it he is, starting with the various disciplines he handles – composing, dancing, singing, playing the piano, choreographing, filming, writing musical theater and creating installations – since more than 60 years ago he burst onto the New York scene, although not as part of the minimalist movement of John Cage and so on. Well, despite making use of repetition, she came from a folk tradition that placed her in another family. “Actually hers is a maximalist approach, since it incorporates all our senses,” Peter Sciscioli, director of communication and education of the House Foundation for the Arts that the artist created on her day, tells La Vanguardia.

Meredith Monk (New York, 1942) is the subject this week of the first major retrospective of her more than six decades of work, although it is not dedicated to New York, her home, but to Europe, at the Haus der Kunst (HdK) in Munich, whose artistic director Andrea Lissoni, former curator of the Tate Modern, has wanted to simultaneously vindicate female artists who already in the sixties shook social norms with immersive and experimental installations in which they questioned sexuality, the role of women, the relationship with the environment…

Thus, along with the three rooms dedicated to the impressive Meredith Monk. Calling in that fabulous building of totalitarian classicism that is the HdK – the first major Nazi architectural project, whose first stone was laid by Hitler – others open up that, under the title Inside Other Spaces, house spaces created by, among others, Judy Chicago, with her famous Feather Room (1966), or Lygia Clark, whose A casa é o corpo from 1968 stands the test of time, inviting the visitor to be the penis that penetrates, the egg that germinates and the fetus that is expelled… And there are long lines to find out what it feels like.

But returning to Monk, this adopted Buddhist dancer (since she was a child) has spent her life exploring the voice and working “between the cracks, where the voice begins to dance, where the body begins to sing, where theater becomes cinema.” , in the words of the artist. Here she looks back and shows the installation version of the iconic theatrical cantata Juice (1969), in which she explored how space affects images and time. Another piece converted into an installation is the three-act opera Quarry (1976), a mosaic of music, images, movement, dialogue, cinema, sound and light considered a masterpiece of the 20th century, as it narrates in a non-literal way how a sick child American somatizes in dreams the darkness of the Second World War.

Meredith herself has participated in bringing the Munich show to life and has offered to show her archives, her curious notations, her modus operandi. Like her opera Atlas de ella, for example, when in 1991 she wanted to redefine the genre by dispensing with words and elevating it to an energetic mystery.

Even though she is in the Bavarian capital, an indisposition has prevented the octogenarian star – she turns 81 on the 20th – from personally presenting this spectrum of the different aspects of her work over the last 60 years, where there is no shortage of her penetrating compositions based on gasps, growls, squeaks and yodels. Like Bloodline Shrine (2018) or the current Songs of Ascension, in which she reimagines the musical theater performance she did in a memorable acoustic cistern: the Ann Hamilton Tower in California.

“Meredith sees her work as two branches of the same tree: one is the discovery of the voice; the other, the multidisciplinary work of installation, music, theater…”, Sciscioli explained instead. Outside the HdK, Monk’s voice called those leaving the nearby Bavarian chancellery to meditate. Such is the force of the Offering Shrine mantra, a time capsule in which a hand shows safety pins, dice…