From 25 January 2018 till 3 March 2018, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam will turn into the Kunsthalle for Music, a contemporary space for the live exhibition of musical works.

“Music is not necessarily what you think it is. Can we imagine a space for music that exists outside of any media and beyond the stage? A space for un-recordable music, music of undefined duration, existing even when no audience is present? A dissolution of performer and audience, of rehearsal and performance? How can we imagine contemporary music, composition, and music performance as contemporary art today?” — from Ari Benjamin Meyers’ manifesto for the Kunsthalle for Music.

Invited by Defne Ayas, Director of Witte de With, in 2016, Kunsthalle for Music is the large-scale institutional project of Ari Benjamin Meyers investigating and researching what it means to create a new institution for music in an art context today. Departing from historical precedents situated at the cross-section of music and visual art, Kunsthalle for Music instantiates – for the first time – a ‘total musical situation’ in which the ensemble itself, and their enacting of a music-based repertory, wholly constitutes the exhibition, forming the material with which all commissioned artists are invited to work, against the backdrop of the stripped-down gallery spaces.


The Kunsthalle for Music ensemble forms the heart of the Kunsthalle for Music, consisting of eight musician-performers. An open-call for musicians of all types, backgrounds and skill-levels resulted in the following ensemble: Bergur Thomas Anderson (guitar), Billy Bultheel (piano), Sandhya Daemgen (violin and voice), Sara Hamadeh (violin), Alexander Iezzi (drums and percussion), Nanna Ikonen (saxophone and electronics), Jackson Moore (saxophone), and Pau Marquès i Oleo (cello).


The ensemble performs newly commissioned works by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Jonathan Bepler, Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson, and The Residents. Over the course of the exhibition each of the commissioned artists work on-site, activating their scores directly with the ensemble in both rehearsals and performances open to the public. Each commission is incorporated as part of Kunsthalle for Music’s evolving repertoire. For secondary school groups, Andre Heuvelman develops a special education commission.


Kunsthalle for Music repertoire comprises a diverse range of existing and adapted pieces contributed by artists and composers including Wojtek Blecharz, Tim Etchells, Peter Fengler, Hassan Khan, Sora Kim, Yoko Ono, Anri Sala, Superflex, , and Guido van der Werve amongst others. The exhibition also includes a number of Meyers’ performance-based music works. The full repertoire listing is available here.

Founding of the Kunsthalle for Music

The Kunsthalle for Music is commissioned by Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (Rotterdam) together with Spring Workshop (Hong Kong). An exposition, not an exhibition by Ari Benjamin Meyers unfolded the Kunsthalle’s foundational themes at Spring Workshop (11 March - 1 April 2017), taken up by Music is Not! A Symposium On and Around the Kunsthalle for Music at Witte de With (26-27 May 2017), with contributions by Peter Osborne (Professor of Modern European Philosophy), Armen Avanessian (Philosopher, Literary & Political Theorist), Victoria Ivanova (Writer and Curator), Jörn Schafaff (Art Historian), Marie-France Rafael (Art Historian), Francois Quintin (Director, Lafayette Anticipations), and Lisette Smits (Curator), amongst others, culminating with this inaugural take-over at Witte de With.

—Supported by

Goethe-Institut, Institut français, Mondriaan Fund