the work of art is the art of work.
LIFE AND WORK - A BIT ABOUT LUISA
I consider myself a "Field Worker". Working in and within an energy field not visible to the eye. My work is about uncovering the unseen and unheard in its raw form, through the sonic and physical exploration of space. Surrender to the very moment, trust, and listening are a central part of each journey.
"Luisa Muhr's voice is remarkably striking." – Free Jazz Collective
"...lovely, soaring flights in voice..." – New York City Jazz Record
"...her lustrous vocalese is a trip!" – New York Music Daily/Lucid Culture
"... a phonetic exercise by artist Luisa Muhr showing the interconnectedness of language" – I CARE IF YOU LISTEN
"I love your work, Luisa!" – Meredith Monk
"She's a word-genius!" – Arturo O'Farrill
"... incredible and indispensable!" – Shelley Hirsch
"Wonderful! Marvelous!" – Austin Pendleton
"She's got a reality going right there!" – Stephen McKinley Henderson
"Luisa can play it all!" – Daniel Davis
Luisa Muhr is a multi-lingual, multi- and interdisciplinary performer, improvisor, director, installation artist, sound artist, and experimental theater maker, originally from Vienna (Austria), lives and works in New York, and is at home in the experimental/avant-garde. Luisa has Hungarian and Anatolian-Greek roots and is the proud great-granddaughter of a Socialist Holocaust-survivor.
As a performer she specializes in performance, vocal, movement, installation, sound, and theater arts. Luisa is also the creator and curator of New York's leading interdisciplinary womxn/non-binary artists series Women Between Arts at The New School (College of Performing Arts) and the co-founder/artistic director of FENGARI Works.
Her primary focus is the art and exploration of voice, sound, and movement in space, often working with fellow-musicians in an experimental, ritualesque setting, exploring the relationship between sonic and physical movement (what she refers to as "field work").
Luisa was an Artist in Residence at Pioneer Works (April 2019), the Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Estate with Arturo O'Farrill (June 2019), at CounterPulse in San Francisco with audio-visual collective Dilate Ensemble (2021-2022), and has been a commissioned artist by Roulette Intermedium (2021) and the Austrian Cultural Forum NY (2018 and 2020). Awarded Grants include the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Label: 577 Records and Notice Records.
Luisa is a certified Deep Listening Practitioner by the Center of Deep Listening (after Pauline Oliveros).
In April 2022 she will teach an open Vocal Improvisation and Deep Listening workshop at Pioneer Works.
ABOUT THE WORK, COLLABORATIONS & MORE
Luisa's creations have been ranging from interdisciplinary installation performance works, experimental and music theater pieces, improvised music and movement, graphic scores and compositions, to video works, writings, and opera.
Luisa's performance background varies from performance, vocal, sound, dance/movement and installation art to experimental/avant-garde, music, movement-based, classical, Yiddish, puppet, and devised theater. She has worked with artists such as Iva Bittová, Claire Chase, Tania Chen, Ashley Fure, Kenneth Goldsmith, Sarah Hennies, Shelley Hirsch, Frank London, Arturo O'Farrill, Jenny Romaine, Peter Schumann, Sxip Shirey, John Zorn, and many more.
Significant venues she performed at include: Lincoln Center, The Getty Museum (LA), Pioneer Works, Rockefeller Center, The Austrian Cultural Forum, The Kitchen, Roulette Intermedium, The Jewish Museum, National Sawdust, Queens Museum, Museum of the Moving Image, The Stone, Park Avenue Armory, Kunstbetrieb (Vienna, Austria), Judson Memorial Church, The New School, Queenslab, the Albright Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo), and various other experimental venues in New York and Vienna (Austria).
During the COVID-19 pandemic Luisa has been actively performing online on a regular basis and was commissioned by various venues and institutions, such as Roulette Intermedium, Collar Works art gallery and the Austrian Cultural Forum NY/Undercurrent NYC art gallery, to create new works live and virtually.
As part of the band PlayField, with Daniel Carter (Horns and Reeds), Luisa Muhr (Voice), Ayumi Ishito (Sax), Eric Plaks (Nord piano), Aron Namenwirth (Guitar), Yutaka Takahashi (Guitar), Zach Swanson (Bass), Jon Panikkar (Drums), their street album trilogy has been released through their label 577 Records, with a studio recording to be released in March 2023.
For significant performances/installations/exhibitions own works and collaborations please go to Work.
Luisa is currently writing and developing a new opera with six-time Grammy winner Arturo O'Farrill.
Luisa is also a core member of Marisa Michelson's Constellation Chor vocal-movement ensemble.
In September 2018 she performed as part of Constellation Chor at Lincoln Center, David Geffen Hall, with the New York Philharmonic, premiering Ashley Fure's work Filament. Residencies include Pioneer Works, Judson Memorial Church, Spectrum Brooklyn, and Dragon's Egg.
The audio-visual band Dilate Ensemble, which Luisa is a part of, was founded by visual artist Carole Kim (California) in the summer of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other members are multi-instrumentalist Gloria Damijan (Vienna, Austria), electronic artist Scott L. Miller (Minnesota), and saxophonist Jon Raskin (California). The collective met online and has been practicing and recording this way throughout the pandemic. Dilate Ensemble has been awarded an artist residency at CounterPulse (San Francisco) from late 2021 to early 2022 and is constantly developing new works.
In May 2020 Luisa joined composer Sarah Weaver's NowNet Arts Lab Ensemble, which works internationally in producing and presenting non-commercial contemporary network arts works, technologies, education programs, and publications for the education of the public. The Ensemble offered weekly performances during quarantine time and monthly performances beyond.
In June 2018 Luisa collaborated with Arturo O'Farrill on his piece Borderless where she helped him set the words to the music and created the made-up sounds that are used in the piece. The song had its premiere at the Merkin Hall Kaufman Music Center in NYC and was performed by the Young People's Chorus of New York. Another performance at Merkin Hall followed in November 2018. Luisa is also credited on O'Farrill's record Fandango at the Wall (2018).
As a vocalist Luisa performs in English, Yiddish, German, made-up languages, and sounds. Instruments she has been exploring with are: harp, theremin, guitar, taishogoto, piano, drums, percussion, and objects.
In April 2018 Luisa was a guest speaker at PEN World Voices: International Play Festival at CUNY to talk about Elfriede Jelinek's work.
In March 2020 Luisa was planned to give a talk and workshop at University of Michigan, "The Arts and Alternative Healing: How Different Approaches to Field Work Can Be a Life Guide to Health (Focusing on the Performing Arts and Family & Systemic Constellations after Bert Hellinger)" in honor of her late artistic partner James Leaf. The event had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.
IN THE BEGINNING...
Growing up in Austria, Luisa first started informal music training (mostly piano and voice), as well as classical ballet training, and 'Ausdruckstanz' or 'expressionist dance' (an avant-garde/experimental/symbolist dance form derived from German Expressionism), all at the age of four, while also joining her parents on regular trips to museums, Vienna cabarets, dance-theater shows, and other predominantly experimental shows in Vienna. This is also where she first encountered the experimental movement-theater troop Serapions Theater (Odeon) of Vienna which made a big impact on her. Luisa is not only heavily influenced by music but also by visual arts and symbolism, having studied art history in parts of Europe as a teenager. At nine she joined a youth musical theater troop where she was not only a performer but eventually also took on roles backstage, including directing, songwriting, composing, playwrighting, costume designing, and sewing. From age 14 on she studied classical singing and eventually also trained as a classical stage actor. As a teenager she also worked at two radio stations in Vienna (Austria) and Cork (Ireland), as a host, newscaster, and also produced and recorded jingles and podcasts. All these early encounters have deeply influenced Luisa and eventually paved the way for a DYI approach in much of her work.
Luisa moved to Montreal (Canada) in 2009, and resided there until 2013, when she moved to New York City and Brooklyn, NY, her now permanent home.
Luisa received her B.F.A. in Theater Performance with Great Distinction (focus in movement-theater) from Concordia University (Montreal, Canada), while studying classical singing under opera singer Yolande Husaruk. Coming to New York, in her first two years here Luisa was a full-time student, studying acting, voice and theater arts intensively through Dance New Amsterdam under multiple theater artists such as Austin Pendleton, Boyd Gaines, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Andrew Wade, Daniel Davis, Chuck Cooper, Tim Carroll, Kathleen McNenny. Some significant vocal/singing instructors throughout her life (spoken word, classical, Yiddish traditional song, musical theater, extended technique) have been: Julia Lenardon, Gordon Bovinet, Maya Hakvoort, Ethel Raim, Yolande Husaruk, Chuck Cooper, and Katie Geissinger (Meredith Monk Ensemble).
Since 2013 Luisa has been excessively taking Gaga dance classes (developed by Ohad Naharin). Further advanced training includes workshops and classes with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Meredith Monk, Frantic Assembly, the Alchemical Theater Laboratory (with Carlo Altomare of The Living Theatre), Jennifer Lacey, Characters in Motion with Lanny Harrison, and Dalcroze/Eurythmics with Leslie Upchurch at Lucy Moses School of Music.
Luisa was selected to be a work-study at Mark Morris Dance Center from 2016-2017.
In early 2019 Luisa received a scholarship by Dalcroze USA to deepen her training and exploration in Dalcroze/Eurythmics work.
Luisa is a certified Deep Listening Practitioner (after Pauline Oliveros, through the Center of Deep Listening).
In 2022 Luisa started studying alternative composition techniques with experimental composer and musician Elliott Sharp.
THE BIRTH OF FENGARI WORKS AND WOMEN BETWEEN ARTS
In June 2015 Luisa founded the Theater and Performing Arts company FENGARI Works (formerly known as FENGARI Ensemble) together with her artistic partner James Leaf (1985-2017). Performances include: Dolores by Edward Allan Baker at the Playroom Theater, Steve Bellwood's COCKPIT (formerly known as The Specials) at the Balcony Theater, which she also co-directed together with James Leaf, and Steve Bellwood's most recent play Albright at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (produced by The Friends of the Buffalo Story) in Buffalo, NY. In 2016 Luisa and James also directed and put together the show The Wedding of the Waters in Buffalo, NY (produced by The Friends of the Buffalo Story), where Luisa was also the Musical Director, Choreographer, and Vocal Coach. James Leaf passed away in December 2017 and FENGARI Works has since mostly been operating as a platform for Women Between Arts.
With the encouragement of John Zorn and the support of Executive Dean of The New School of Performing Arts, Richard Kessler, Luisa started curating her own series Women Between Arts at The New School, Glass Box Theatre in NYC in October 2017, to feature interdisciplinary womxn and non-binary artists and create a platform for further dialogue between different art disciplines. It has since been New York's leading interdisciplinary womxn and non-binary artists series.
DIRECTING, TEACHING & HEALING
Luisa has directed multiple performances around the world (Austria, South Africa, Canada, and the United States) and has worked as a performing arts teacher (acting, voice/singing, dancing/movement) at Bedford Stuyvesant Collegiate Charter School in Brooklyn, Stagecoach Theatre Art Schools in Montreal, the w@lz School in Vienna (Austria), and Masibambane College in Johannesburg (South Africa). She also developed the program German Through Music and Movement at United Nations International School (German School) and has been a private acting, speech, public speaking, vocal, movement, and German instructor for several years.
In 2016 and 2017 Luisa was a part of the Theater Faculty at Yiddish New York, an annual culture festival to celebrate the Yiddish language and Jewish culture (music, theater, dance and visual arts) where she also directed and performed.
Luisa is one of the most prominent Family and Systematic Constellations facilitator in New York and holds regular workshops in healing centers across the city (MINKA Brooklyn, OHM Center, Balance Arts Center, Maha Rose). Please find more information here.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST...
As a lover of languages Luisa knows five: She is fluent in English and German and speaks French, Spanish, and Yiddish.
Luisa is left-handed.