Bene Andrist (drums)
Weronika Boada Peñafiel (voice)
Steve Laurent Graf (guitar)
Juan Mauricio Schmid Bello (bass)
Costumes and merchandise by Georgie+Timmy Studio
Scenarios and 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 will be art school students who have responded to an advert by the artist that very precisely sets 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, before 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, dissolving the distinctions between art and music, rehearsal and performance. So although he was classically trained, he has played 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 surrounding 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 countless 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 phenomenon. A five-week long durational performance, The name of this 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.