Ari Benjamin Meyers

Ari Benjamin Meyers

Selected Works
May 22 – June 20, 2020
  • Ari Benjamin Meyers 


     

     

    Ari Benjamin Meyers was born in 1972 in New York. He lives and works in Berlin.

     

    Ari Benjamin Meyers’ work explores structures and processes that redefine the performative, social, and ephemeral nature of music. His conceptual projects and installations often draw attention to concrete details of music-making otherwise taken for granted and make tangible underlying conceptual operations.

     

    Recent works have addressed music scores themselves, forms and arrangements of musical instruments, concert settings, and gestures of performers and conductors. At the same time, his compositions and performances seek to challenge the relationship between performer and audience, giving form to the practice of musicians and composers, and musical structures in the context of visual art.

  • Trained as a composer and conductor at The Juilliard School, Yale University, and The Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, Meyers became more widely known in the context of the visual and performative arts in 2007 as musical director and conductor of the group exhibition Il Tempo del Postino curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Philippe Parreno (Manchester International Festival, 2007, and Art Basel, 2009).

     

    Recents projects and solo exhibitions include: Solo for Ayumi, Schering Stiftung, Berlin (2020); Kunsthalle for Music. Moscow Solos, VAC Foundation, Moscow (2019); Kunsthalle for Music, MCASB, Santa Barbara (2019); In Concert, OGR, Turin (2019); Tacet, Kasseler Kunstverein, Kassel (2019); Kunsthalle for Music, Witte de With, Rotterdam (2018); Symphony 80 (with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra), Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich (2017); An exposition, not an exhibition, Spring Workshop, Hong Kong (2017), and Who’s Afraid of Sol La Ti? (Invention I), Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2016).

     

    His next large scale performance project, Forecast, will now premiere in April 2021 at the Völksbuhne, Berlin.

  • K CLUB

    2019

    • Ari Benjamin Meyers K Club, 2019 Performance, environment, neon sign, 2 12-inch LP vinyl records Installation dimensions variable
      Ari Benjamin Meyers
      K Club, 2019

      Performance, environment, neon sign, 2 12-inch LP vinyl records
      Installation dimensions variable

    K Club, 2019

     


     

     

    K Club is a musical situation staged for one visitor only at a time. A neon sign marks the entrance to a dance club, the exhibition space is designed accordingly. The music track was composed by Ari Benjamin Meyers with Canadian electronica musician Deadbeat and takes the visitor on a condensed journey through an entire night out clubbing. By mixing two vinyl records of the same track, a unique score for each visitor is created live by the DJ. An important aspect of the work is the situation of waiting: visitors are randomly assigned a number; only if their number is called by the bouncer are they allowed in.

     

     — Jörn Schafaff (Tacet in Concert, Corraini Edizioni, 2019, p. 6) 
     
  • Ari Benjamin Meyers, K Club, 2019, performance, environment, neon sign, 2 12-inch LP vinyl records, installation dimensions variable. Exhibition view: In Concert, OGR, Turin, 2019. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
  • It is not so much about the perfomance in and of itself or even the idea that we perform something for others, but much more the space that's opened up by this intersection between audience, musician, and music.

     

    — Ari Benjamin Meyers
  • Ari Benjamin Meyers, K Club, 2019, performance, environment, neon sign, 2 12-inch LP vinyl records, installation dimensions variable.. Exhibition view: In Concert, OGR, Turin, 2019. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
  •  KUNSTHALLE FOR MUSIC

    2018

  • Kunsthalle for Music 


     

     

    Kunsthalle for Music is an itinerant institution dedicated to the presentation of music within the histories and environments of the visual arts. At Kunsthalle for Music, an especially created ensemble performs on-site an exhibition of musical works, which are drawn from a repertoire or 'collection' that includes existing and newly commissioned solos, duets, and group pieces by both composers and visual artists.
     
    The collection and exhibition score are created by Ari Benjamin Meyers, founder of Kunsthalle for Music. The exhibition score is open to variations. This means that it can and has been designed site-specifically or that it can vary or be modified according to re-interpretations or new additions to its collection. Ultimately, Kunsthalle for Music spatializes a ‘total musical situation’ in which the ensemble’s performance both constitutes the exhibition and forms the material basis for new creations. Commissioned artists are invited to work with the ensemble and the collection of Kunsthalle for Music and within the emptied or minimal environment of an exhibition space.

  • In 2016, Defne Ayas invited Ari Benjamin Meyers to realize his proposal at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam. Since then, Kunsthalle for Music has unfolded in numerous ways, including the first fully-fledged and public activation of the project, organized by Witte de With from January 25 to March 3, 2018.

     

    In 2019, Kunsthalle for Music travelled to the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, CA, and the VAC Foundation, Moscow.

  • Sora Kim, Breathe, 2017. Exhibition view: Kunsthalle for Music, Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2018. Photo © Nieuwe Beelden Makers
    Sora Kim, Breathe, 2017. Exhibition view: Kunsthalle for Music, Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2018. Photo © Nieuwe Beelden Makers
  • Exhibition view: Kunsthalle for Music, Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2018. Photo © Nieuwe Beelden Makers
    Exhibition view: Kunsthalle for Music, Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2018. Photo © Nieuwe Beelden Makers
  • Exhibition view: Kunsthalle for Music, Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2018. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
    Exhibition view: Kunsthalle for Music, Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2018. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
  • In 2018, Kunsthalle for Music was the subject of a feature by Nina Siegal in The New York TimesClick here to read the full review.

  • In 2019, Kunsthalle for Music travelled to Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara.

  • Sora Kim, Breathe, 2017.

    Exhibition View: Ari Benjamin Meyers: Kunsthalle for Music, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, 2019. Courtesy MCASB. Photo: Alex Blair

  • FOUR LIVERPOOL MUSICIANS

    2018

  • Four Liverpool Musicians, 2018


     

     

     

    On the occasion of the 2018 Liverpool Biennial, Ari Benjamin Meyers created a series of musical compositions that form the basis for a filmic musical portrait of four musicians from Liverpool, or with musical ties to the city: Bette Bright (Deaf School), Budgie (Siouxsie and the Banshees/Big in Japan), Ken Owen (Carcass) and Louisa Roach (She Drew The Gun).

     

    The film references the subjects' personal histories and tell Liverpool's musical history, representing its major musical movements while at the same time relating back to the city's industrial past. This is the artist's first film-based work: The three-schannel video is projected on three screens and played back with varying amounts of overlap to create a meta-composition and a dialogue between the performers.

  • Ari Benjamin Meyers, Four Liverpool Musicians (Bette, Budgie, Ken, Louisa), 2018. Exhibition view: Liverpool Biennial 2018, Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool, 2018. Photo © Thierry Bal
    Ari Benjamin Meyers, Four Liverpool Musicians (Bette, Budgie, Ken, Louisa), 2018. Exhibition view: Liverpool Biennial 2018, Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool, 2018. Photo © Thierry Bal
  • Ari Benjamin Meyers: Four Liverpool Musicians from Liverpool Biennial on Vimeo.

    The musicians were filmed performing the scores on the empty stage of Liverpool Playhouse Theatre, the exact same place where the video installation was installed during the exhibition. Additionally, the musicians were filmed listening through headphones in silence to the playback of their own performance, which were all done in single takes.

     

     — Jörn Schafaff, (Tacet in Concert, Corraini Edizioni, 2019, p. 16)
     
  • Ari Benjamin Meyers, Four Liverpool Musicians (Bette, Budgie, Ken, Louisa), 2018, three channel video, color, sound, four original scores, framed, duration 52:10 min, scores: 4 framed score, 3 pages each (30,1 x 23,2 cm each page, 49,5 x 95,3 x 2,3 cm each framed triptych), edition of 3. Video still © Ari Benjamin Meyers

  • Ari Benjamin Meyers, Four Liverpool Musicians (Bette, Budgie, Ken, Louisa), 2018. Exhibition view: Liverpool Biennial 2018, Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool, 2018. Photo © Thierry Bal
    Ari Benjamin Meyers, Four Liverpool Musicians (Bette, Budgie, Ken, Louisa), 2018. Exhibition view: Liverpool Biennial 2018, Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool, 2018. Photo © Thierry Bal
  • SOLO FOR AYUMI

    2017

  • Solo for Ayumi, 2017


     

     

    For his second solo exhibition with Esther Schipper, Ari Benjamin Meyers presented Solo for Ayumi: a musical portrait realized in collaboration with Berlin-based violinist Ayumi Paul, in an exhibition format.

     

    In 2017, Meyers and Ayumi Paul engaged in a correspondence based on Paul's life, forming the point of departure of Solo for Ayumi. From the approximately thirty letters that she sent him, Meyers chose twelve to which he responded by inscribing them with a multi-part score, composing both a musical portrait and abstraction of the violin player.

     

    Every day for the duration of the exhibition, Paul was present in the gallery space, enacting Meyers' interpretation of her life on her violin. Each one of Meyers’ score forms a series of individual motifs, part of a bigger composition that the violinist repeated every day, like a mantra.

  • Ayumi Paul performing Solo for Ayumi at Esther Schipper, Berlin, in 2017.
    Video © Andrea Rossetti

  • Exhibition view: Ari Benjamin Meyers, Solo for Ayumi, Esther Schipper, 2017. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
    Exhibition view: Ari Benjamin Meyers, Solo for Ayumi, Esther Schipper, 2017. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
    • Ari Benjamin Meyers Solo for Ayumi (baby shoes), 2017 Handwritten score on paper, baby shoes, plinth 110 x 97 x 70 cm
      Ari Benjamin Meyers
      Solo for Ayumi (baby shoes), 2017

      Handwritten score on paper, baby shoes, plinth
      110 x 97 x 70 cm

    Alongside this performance, the artist exhibited selected objects and artifacts belonging to Paul as diptychs, paired with the letter-scores: a birth certificate, a key, a diary, a student ID, a golden bracelet, a letter, a calendar, four negatives, baby shoes, a dress, a stone, and a toy-gun.

     

    All twelve objects echo the content of Paul’s letters, whether directly or by association. However, this content remains partly protected from the viewer due to Meyers’ hand-written score partially covering Paul’s words, insuring a certain privacy to the deeply charged letters.

  • Ari Benjamin Meyers, Solo for Ayumi (baby shoes), 2017, handwritten score on paper, baby shoes, plinth, 110 x 97 x 70 cm. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
    • Ari Benjamin Meyers Solo for Ayumi (dress), 2017 Handwritten score on paper, dress, plinth 110 x 97 x 70 cm
      Ari Benjamin Meyers
      Solo for Ayumi (dress), 2017

      Handwritten score on paper, dress, plinth
      110 x 97 x 70 cm

    One of the objects exhibited was the dress worn by Ayumi Paul for her debut concert.

     

     

    It’s very moving; it has all that sweat in it, it’s a costume but it’s real.

     

     — Ari Benjamin Meyers, interviewed by Alexander Abdelilah, 2017
  • SYMPHONY 80

    2017

  • Symphony 80 was composed specifically for the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich.

     

    Produced in collaboration with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, it examines the question of how to display the complexity of an orchestra—a sizable ensemble that is typically organized in accordance with a fixed arrangement of instruments and performs as a unit under the direction of a conductor—in an exhibition that allows the audience to observe not just the choric whole but also the specific contributions of its individual members.

     

    This display, moreover, is mounted not in the familiar venue of the concert hall or in a spectatorial performance situation but instead in a museum’s galleries.

  • Ari Benjamin Meyers, Symphony 80, 2017, performance, original score, performance protocol and the right to stage the performance in consultation with the artist, duration 240:00 min, edition of 1.
    Performance: Symphony 80, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, June 25, 2017. Photo © Andrea Rossetti

  • The orchestra turns the entire Lenbachhaus with all its rooms into the scene of an orchestral exhibition-performance. The focus is on the encounter with the individual performers, breaking with the customary definition of the orchestra as a collective and unified harmonic body.

     

    The musicians introduce themselves to the audience in the manner of soloists before scattering across the Lenbachhaus’s floors and galleries and gradually tuning in to their shared music-making.

     

    The audience, too, roams freely amid the music and between the musicians, immersing itself in a three-dimensional analytical “image” of the orchestra for an encounter and experience that will be thoroughly unlike a typical concert evening.

  • Video excerpt of Symphony 80 performed by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in the galleries of Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, June 25, 2017.
    Video © Andrea Rossetti

  • Ari Benjamin Meyers, Symphony 80, 2017, performance, original score, performance protocol and the right to stage the performance in consultation with the artist, duration 240:00 min, edition of 1. Performance: Symphony 80, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, June 25, 2017. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
    Ari Benjamin Meyers, Symphony 80, 2017, performance, original score, performance protocol and the right to stage the performance in consultation with the artist, duration 240:00 min, edition of 1. Performance: Symphony 80, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, June 25, 2017. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
  • THE ART (LYON)

    2017

  • On the occasion of the 2017 Lyon Biennale Ari Benjamin Meyers  created a temporary rock band. The name of this band is The Art.

     

    The work consists of the annotated songbook with 10 original scores by Meyers for voice, electric guitar, electric bass and drums; signed and framed contractual band agreement; 5 white pre-worn costumes; full set of 37 individual band t-shirts.

  • Detail: Ari Benjamin Meyers, The Art (Lyon), 2017. Exhibition view: Floating Worlds, 14th Biennale de Lyon, 2017. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
    Detail: Ari Benjamin Meyers, The Art (Lyon), 2017. Exhibition view: Floating Worlds, 14th Biennale de Lyon, 2017. Photo © Andrea Rossetti

  • Playing in situ the band performs regularly several times a week over several months during the exhibition's duration. The Art is defined by a particular length of time in a particular space. A manufactured group, its members are art school students who responded to an advert by the artist that very precisely sets out the terms of its existence.

     

    Everything The Art does takes place in one setting: from first coming together as a band, progressing through first rehearsals to well-practiced group, before finally — and as is contractually inevitable — breaking up.

  • Video of Ari Benjamin Meyers speaking about The Art (Lyon).

  • Detail: Ari Benjamin Meyers, The Art (Lyon), 2017. Exhibition view: Floating Worlds, 14th Biennale de Lyon, 2017. Photo © Blaise Adilon
    Detail: Ari Benjamin Meyers, The Art (Lyon), 2017. Exhibition view: Floating Worlds, 14th Biennale de Lyon, 2017. Photo © Blaise Adilon
  • ATLAS OF MELODIES

    2015

  • Atlas of Melodies, 2015


     

     

     

    These works consist of vintage sheet music from Ari Benjamin Meyers’s collection for which the artist has composed a short piece of music.

     

    Collected from different countries, manufacturers, periods, in various formats and states of use and decay, Benjamin Meyers has inscribed each sheet with a short composition evoked by the very same piece of paper. It takes as point of departure associations the artist has with the paper’s origin, format or intended purpose.

     

    The compositions combine the artist’s personal associations with a specific piece of sheet music, which in the process become vessels of his thought but also recall traditional practices that because of standardized formats and computerized notations have begun to disappear.

  • Ari Benjamin Meyers, works from the Atlas of Melodies series, 2015, handwritten scores on paper, dimensions variable. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
    Ari Benjamin Meyers, works from the Atlas of Melodies series, 2015, handwritten scores on paper, dimensions variable. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
    • Ari Benjamin Meyers SCM 102/201, 2015 Handwritten score on found paper 35,7 x 28 cm each (motif), 2 parts 51,3 x 43,6 x 2,8 cm each (framed), 2 parts
      Ari Benjamin Meyers
      SCM 102/201, 2015

      Handwritten score on found paper
      35,7 x 28 cm each (motif), 2 parts
      51,3 x 43,6 x 2,8 cm each (framed), 2 parts

    The compositions recall a memory and give it a permanent expression in music, combining distinct temporalities and means of communication. The work uses a specialized language, one that can be read and heard.

  • Ari Benjamin Meyers, works from the Atlas of Melodies series, 2015, handwritten scores on paper, dimensions variable. Exhibition view: Esther Schipper Bookstore, Berlin, 2020. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
    Ari Benjamin Meyers, works from the Atlas of Melodies series, 2015, handwritten scores on paper, dimensions variable. Exhibition view: Esther Schipper Bookstore, Berlin, 2020. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
  • DUET

    2014

    • Ari Benjamin Meyers DUET, 2014 2 scores on paper, 2 music stands, pdf file, instructions 31,5 x 24 cm each (score) Edition of 5
      Ari Benjamin Meyers
      DUET, 2014

      2 scores on paper, 2 music stands, pdf file, instructions
      31,5 x 24 cm each (score)
      Edition of 5

    DUET, 2014


     

     

    DUET is a composition to be performed by two strangers and is based on three motives. The composition is simple and written in a way it could be comprehended by a person who cannot read musical notations. It has two voices to perform the same score: Me and You.

     

    Me is to be performed by a member of an institution, exhibiting the work, or an entitled person. You is performed by a visitor. The performance is always initiated by the question, posed by Me performing person to a visitor: “Would you like to sing with me?” If the answer is yes, a short rehearsal takes place (10 minutes approximately) followed by a complete performance of the piece. If the invited visitor answers negatively, nothing happens.

  • (...) Ari would like you to know that the score you see in front of you is only one possible representation of a set of instructions that exists in order to produce the actual piece that we will now execute together. The piece is the music we will produce but also (and equally) the moment that is created between us and between us and whomever may be viewing the piece (although an audience is in no way necessary). The piece then is an ongoing series of fleeting moments mediated by a set of instructions (the score). Ari asks that, to preserve the nature of this work, no recordings of any kind be made.

     

    — Taken from the manuscript score of DUET
  • Exhibition view: Tacet, Kasseler Kunstverein, Kassel, 2019. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
    Exhibition view: Tacet, Kasseler Kunstverein, Kassel, 2019. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
  • SERIOUS IMMOBILITIES

    2013

    • Ari Benjamin Meyers Serious Immobilities, 2013 Performance protocol, music score for electric guitar, electric bass and voice Duration variable
      Ari Benjamin Meyers
      Serious Immobilities, 2013
      Performance protocol, music score for electric guitar, electric bass and voice
      Duration variable

    Serious Immobilities, 2013


     

     

    Serious Immobilities is a music composition to be performed in an exhibition venue. The piece is composed for voices (minimum 3, un-amplified), electric guitar and electric bass. The composition consists of 9 flexible modules.

     

    During the performance the singers use a system of hand movements to coordinate the sequence of the musical modules. The duration of the piece is variable. 

  • Ari Benjamin Meyers, Serious Immobilities, 2013, performance protocol, music score for electric guitar, electric bass and voice, duration variable. Exhibition view: Black Thoughts, Esther Schipper, Berlin, 2013. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
    Ari Benjamin Meyers, Serious Immobilities, 2013, performance protocol, music score for electric guitar, electric bass and voice, duration variable. Exhibition view: Black Thoughts, Esther Schipper, Berlin, 2013. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
  • ABM006 Serious Immobilities, 2013 from Esther Schipper on Vimeo.

    The title Serious Immobilities is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the instructions that Erik Satie wrote on the score of his composition Vexations (1893):

     

     

     

    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.

     

  • Ari Benjamin Meyers, Serious Immobilities, 2013, performance protocol, music score for electric guitar, electric bass and voice, duration variable. Exhibition view: Black Thoughts, Esther Schipper, Berlin, 2013. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
    Ari Benjamin Meyers, Serious Immobilities, 2013, performance protocol, music score for electric guitar, electric bass and voice, duration variable. Exhibition view: Black Thoughts, Esther Schipper, Berlin, 2013. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
  • PORTRAIT

    2013

  • Portrait, 2013 / date of execution


     

     

     

    Portrait is an ongoing series of unique compositions written by Ari Benjamin Meyers as a commissioned work. They are always composed for a specific person and bear as a title his or her name, emphasizing that the composition is an actual portrait.

     

    The buyer receives the work in two formats: the score, printed on paper (optionally supplemented with a display rail) and a digital file for reproducing the score.

  • Portrait is based on a conversation between the buyer and the artist that will ideally take place in person but can also happen over the phone, via Skype, or as an email exchange. The work on the portrait begins with the artist asking simple questions regarding musical experiences of the person to be portrayed. This dialogue becomes the basis for the short, mostly solo instrumental or vocal composition by the artist.

     

    The Portrait is a physical and an imaginary representation of the discovered musical skills and fantasies. The resulting score is usually one to two pages long. The buyer owns the rights to play the composition and to have someone else perform the piece.

     

    In addition to individual portraits, there have also beren group portraits, as in Songbook (ES13) composed for the staff of Esther Schipper, and ensemble compositions such as the Braun family portrait.

  • Ari Benjamin Meyers, Songbook (ES 13), Esther Schipper, Berlin, 2013. Photo © Andrea Rossetti
    Ari Benjamin Meyers, Songbook (ES 13), Esther Schipper, Berlin, 2013. Photo © Andrea Rossetti

     

  • THE LIGHTNING AND ITS FLASH

    2011

  • The Lightning and its Flash (Solo for Conductor), 2011


     

     

    The work is an original composition by Ari Benjamin Meyers written to be performed by a conductor on a podium in front of an audience seated like an orchestra.

     

    The composition is digitally printed on 22 pages of paper. It functions as a score employing conventional musical notation to describe what is to be conducted. Yet the resulting 35 minute performance is silent, relying on the movements of the conductor rather than sound to covey the composer's "music". In this way it highlights the unique and seemingly contradictory situation of the conductor: a musician who makes no sound.

     

  • Ari Benjamin Meyers, The Lightning and its Flash (Solo for Conductor), 2011, digital print on natural paper, thread bound, music stand, 22 pages, 32 x 45 cm, edition of 5. Photo © Sebastiano Pellion
    Ari Benjamin Meyers, The Lightning and its Flash (Solo for Conductor), 2011, digital print on natural paper, thread bound, music stand, 22 pages, 32 x 45 cm, edition of 5. Photo © Sebastiano Pellion
  • Ari Benjamin Meyers, The Lightning and its Flash (Solo for Conductor), 2010 from Esther Schipper on Vimeo.

    The Lightning and its Flash (Solo for Conductor) is, like any conventional music score, open to interpretation by the performer. The work demands however that the audience steps out of its typically passive role and takes part in the performance, as each individual will create or "hear" his or her own score, directed by the conductor; it is a single unified act shared by conductor and audience.

     

    Watch Ari Benjamin Meyers performing The Lightning and its Flash (Solo for Conductor) as part of the group exhibition Out of Order. Part 2 (Highlights from the collection of Barbara and Axel Haubrok) at the Neues Museum Nürnberg in January 2020.

  • Just as the lightning and its flash are one and the same thing, and not two separate things, so, in conducting, the conductor's conception of the work and its materialization in the orchestra must flash forth simultaneously.

     

     

    — Hermann Scherchen (Handbook of Conducting, Oxford University Press, 1966)
  • Ari Benjamin Meyers, The Lightning and its Flash (Solo for Conductor), 2011. Exhibition view: Out of Order. Part 2, Neues Museum Nürnberg, 2019. Photo © Kat Letzte
    Ari Benjamin Meyers, The Lightning and its Flash (Solo for Conductor), 2011. Exhibition view: Out of Order. Part 2, Neues Museum Nürnberg, 2019. Photo © Kat Letzte
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