The Name of the Band is “The Art”

by Ari Benjamin Meyers
April 23 – May 27, 2016
Opening: April 22, 6–9 pm
Break up and fanzine launch: May 27, 6–9 pm
Pfingstweidstrasse 23 / Welti-Furrer Areal, 8005 Zürich 

Bene Andrist – drums
Veru Loremipsum – voice
LS Grave – guitar
Juan Mauricio Schmid Bello – bass
Costumes and merchandise:
Georgie+Timmy Studio Scenarios
liner notes by John Holten
Graphic design by Ronny Hunger

For his debut show at RaebervonStenglin, Ari Benjamin Meyers exhibits a temporary rock band. The name of this band is The Art. Playing in situ all day, during the opening hours of the gallery over five weeks of his exhibition’s duration, The Art is defined by a particular length of time in a particular space. A manufactured group, its members were art school students who have responded to an advert by the artist that very precisely set out the terms of its existence. Everything The Art does will take place in the setting of the gallery: from first coming together as a band, progressing through first rehearsals to well-practiced group, be- fore finally — and as is contractually inevitable — breaking up.

Just as the band is the creation of Meyers, so too is the score that The Art will play. The artist has composed a collection of verses, choruses and bridges that will form the basis of The Art’s repertoire, complex enough for the band to inhabit over their sustained gallery performance, yet deliberately kept open enough to allow improvisation and freedom of interpretation. An artist educated as a conductor and composer, Meyers’ work traverses these categories, dis- solving the distinctions between art and music, rehearsal and performance. So although he was classically trained, he hasplayed in and worked with a number of bands including Einstürzende Neubauten, The Orb, The Residents, Celan and most recently Chicks on Speed. His piece responds to RaebervonStenglin’s garage-like space and industrial location — a fitting location for a rock band to practice — and to the enhanced awareness of the gallery setting that frames his concept, turning every note into a performance and everything sur- rounding this into an artwork. The self-reflexive nature of Meyers’ project has Duchampian antecedents, but its precedents and influences are equally the music and lore of the count- less bands that have gone before, specifically the so-called “art school” bands that originally formed as an extension of the punk movement, such as Gang of Four, Devo, Talking Heads and later Sonic Youth.

In combining the raw dynamic of individuals making music with today’s manufactured and packaged consumerist thing, Meyers’ piece encourages meditation on the band as a changing cultural phenome- non. A five-week long durational performance, The Name of the band is The Art will leave behind not a fixed musical record, but a legacy made of memories and the stories that circulate its short existence. This ephemeral residue will be enhanced by more physical remains including band merchandise, a fanzine, and a score that, after the band itself is no more, may yet give rise to new iterations of The Art.

The artist has invited Kathi Glas and Kai Knappe of Georgie+Timmy Studio to design the costumes and merchandise and John Holten, author and editor in chief of Broken Dimanche Press, to write scenarios and liner notes that accompany each song.

Ari Benjamin Meyers, born 1972 in New York, was trained as a composer and conductor. He has stud- ied at Yale University, the Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore and the Hanns-Eisler University for Mu- sic, Berlin. Selected projects and group exhibitions include: ‘The Verismo Project (Franz Hartwig, A Most Wanted Man), Kino International, Berlin (2015); ‘Frost Radio’, Seoul (2014); ‘Just in Time. Just in Sequence’, Schauspielhaus Bochum, ‘This is Not Detroit’ Festival, Bochum (2014); ‘The Lightning and Its Flash (Solo for Conductor)’, New Initiative for Europe, Akademie der Künste, Berlin (2014); ‘Black Thoughts’, Esther Schipper, Berlin (2013); ‘Chamber Music (Vestibule)’, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin (2013); ‘Songbook’, Esther Schipper, Berlin (2013) and ‘Symphony X (installation version)’ (2012); ‘I Wish This Was a Song. Music in Contemporary Art’, The National Museum of Norway – Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo (2012).

Selected collaborations include: ‘This Variation’, dOCUMENTA 13 (with Tino Seghal) (2012);’The 4th Act’, ‘To the Moon via the Beach’, LUMA Foundation, Arles (2012); ‘T.451’, for Tensta Konsthall (2012);’K.62/K.85’, Performa ‘09, New York (2009); ‘NY.2022’, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2008) all with Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster. Further collaborations include ‘The Fairytale Recordings’ with Saâdane Afif, RaebervonStenglin (2011) and ‘The Breathing Line’ (2012) and ‘1395 Days Without Red’ (2011) with Anri Sala. Meyers was Music Director for 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.