City Gallery City Gallery

Past exhibition

Janet Cardiff: The Forty-Part Motet

20 February–16 May 2010

The Forty-Part Motet (2001) is a sculpturally-conceived sound installation that reproduces a performance of a choral work, Spem in Alium Nunquam Habui (1573), by the English Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis. Canadian sound artist Janet Cardiff records the forty performers separately and plays them back through forty separate speakers arranged in a circle. The eleven-minute work begins as the singers assemble, exchange pleasantries, and clear their throats. Then, the conductor corrals the choir into action. Gallery goers are encouraged to walk through the space experiencing different configurations of voice parts. At once intimate and encompassing, tender and dramatic, it’s a surround-sound experience.