About the Exhibition


Janet Cardiff’s sound installation deconstructs “Spem in Alium,” a sixteenth-century choral work by the English composer Thomas Tallis. Forty speakers play forty separately recorded parts. The speakers are arranged in eight groups, each a choir of five vocal parts: soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, and bass. As Cardiff explains:
 
“While listening to a concert you are normally seated in front of the choir, in traditional audience position. With this piece I want the audience to be able to experience a piece of music from the viewpoint of the singers. Every performer hears a unique mix of the piece of music. Enabling the audience to move throughout the space allows them to be intimately connected with the voices. It also reveals the piece of music as a changing construct. As well, I am interested in how sound may physically construct a space in a sculptural way and how a viewer may choose a path through this physical yet virtual space.”

The duration of the artwork is approximately fourteen minutes, with eleven minutes of singing and three minutes of intermission. 
 
 
Janet Cardiff (Canadian, b. 1957), The Forty Part Motet (A reworking of “Spem in Alium” by Thomas Tallis, 1556/1573), 2001
Forty loudspeakers mounted on stands, amplifiers, playback computer
Duration: fourteen-minute loop with eleven minutes of music and three minutes of intermission
 
Janet Cardiff: The Forty Part Motet 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. It features the voices of the Salisbury Cathedral Choir and extras. It was recorded and post-produced by SoundMoves and edited by George Bures Miller.
 
The Forty Part Motet is lent generously by the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. The Clark’s summer 2019 exhibitions and programs are made possible in part by generous support from Denise Littlefield Sobel. Significant support for this exhibition is provided by Sylvia and Leonard Marx, with additional support from the Sheehan Family.