artist / participant
Janet Cardiff’s now famous multivoiced installation Forty-Part Motet, a performance of Thomas Tallis’ Spem in Alium nunquam habui, involves 40 individual soundtracks each containing a unique voice. Like many of Cardiff’s sound pieces the audience becomes aware of the fragmentary and communal moments of aural occasion.
Tallis’ composition refers to religious transcendence. Its charged choral harmonies recall a past age when community was symbolised by gatherings in which one voice lifted the whole towards heaven and closer to God.
In Cardiff’s recorded presentation fragmentation and dis-embodiedment become as important as catharsis. Moments of the mundane disrupt the sense of completeness attempted in the original work and place the gallery audience inside the structure of vocalisation.
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