Janet Cardiff - The Forty Part Motet

The audio installation The Forty Part Motet (2001) by Janet Cardiff (Canadian artist, born 1957), acclaimed by both public and critics, was presented in the building known as the Formation, at the Parc des Ateliers, Arles.

This enchanting work comprises a recording of a performance — by a forty-part male voice choir in Salisbury Cathedral — of Spem in Alium Numquam Habui by English composer Thomas Tallis (1505-1585). Their song is broadcast through speakers, elevated the same height as a person and spread in an ellipse within the space. These speakers, and the sound that emanates from them, invite the public to move around the perimeter of the installation, from one sound source to another, passing from the polyphonic effect of the choir in the centre of the space to hearing individual voices. The public was invited to meditate, reflect and breathe.

Forty Part Motet by Janet Cardiff was originally produced by Field Art Projects with the Arts Council of England, the Salisbury Festival,BALTIC Gateshead, The New Art Gallery Walsall, and the NOW Festival Nottingham. Sung by Salisbury Cathedral Choir. Recording and Postproduction by SoundMoves Edited by George Bures Miller.
Our thanks go to Tate, London (UK) and the Kramlich Collection, San Francisco (USA) for letting us show this work in Arles.