Meridith Monk Characteristics

ARTIST CHARACTERISTICS In her own words. . . "I'm really enjoying film because [it is] really so much like doing music, you know. It makes sense to me. . . I've enjoyed the process, [and the] musicality of images. Images are also musical and the way that they're put together is musical. . . [I] integrate elements of sound, image, movement and put it into proportion." - Meredith Monk

(About Quarry) "It had to do with World War II. It was a way to deal with history in a mythic way. Not to make a documentary, but to deal with a historic phenomenon that's been covered so much in the mass media and books and television and everything and try to find a new way of dealing with that. . . what we've been fed, you know, as part of our own myth and part of our own collective unconscious and try to find a new way of dealing with it. Really the piece was more about historical myth. I wanted to create these [WWII] photographs. I didn't want to shy away from it. And there were photographs of. . . the death Quarry [in Poland] where people had to carry stones. . . they would just be worked to death, until they couldn't carry any more stones. I was digging up something that already existed. It was a kind of archeology. . . "

(About Ellis Island) "Ellis Island was the center of immigration from about 1890, and that was the place that everybody came into America. Ellis Island is right near the Statue of Liberty. Ellis Island was the center for people that were travelling steerage, then they would go through this processing that could take 3 hours or it could take 3 days or even people were detained there [for] years. People committed suicide there rather than go back. They jumped into the river to swim to New Jersey. It was a very strong point in the earth. It happens that my grandparents went through there coming from Poland.

When I was working on the Ellis Island piece I was thinking about archeology. . . and I guess I did think that it would be humorous, but would at the same time be a strong statement. Humor is a very difficult thing to talk about. I would never want to do anything that didn't have humor in it. . . It's hard, to talk about how it happens. I don't remember when I was working on the film, thinking 'gee, that would be funny' or anything. I just do the images. It has more to do with wit than it has to do with roll on the floor kind of laughter."

(About Turtle Dreams) "It's a piece that is trying to deal with contemporary life, and contemporary urban life. Turtle Dreams is definitely acknowledging that I live in New York City and that I'm hearing sounds [grating] against each other. And that we're all feeling a pre-world war III anxiety. I mean, a lot of people are trying to deal with this and I'm trying to deal with this atmosphere in my own way."

--I transcribed Meredith Monk's responses during an interview with Peter Greenway


Greenaway, Peter. (1983) Four American Composers: Meredith Monk." UbuWeb.

--Kaylah McKenzie, 2010.

Meridith Monk