Janet Cardiff

The Forty Part Motet
November 14, 2015–January 18, 2016
At the Fort Mason Center for Arts + Culture, Gallery 308

SFMOMA’s On the Go programming concludes with the California debut of Janet Cardiff’s immersive sound installation The Forty Part Motet, co-presented with the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture. The installation is the inaugural exhibition for Gallery 308, a newly renovated historic space at Fort Mason. Cardiff has gained international distinction for her site-specific audio and video walks, which use prerecorded narratives to guide viewers through various indoor and outdoor locations. Considered Cardiff’s masterwork, The Forty Part Motet is a forty-part choral performance of English composer Thomas Tallis’s sixteenth-century composition Spem in Alium, sung by the Salisbury Cathedral Choir. The performance is played in a fourteen-minute loop that includes eleven minutes of singing and three minutes of intermission. Individually recorded parts are projected through forty speakers arranged inward in an oval formation, allowing visitors to walk throughout the installation, listening to individual voices along with the whole. Cardiff’s layering of voices creates an emotionally evocative sound sculpture that feels intimate, even within a public space.

The Forty Part Motet by Janet Cardiff is co-presented by Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Generous support is provided by Linda and Jon Gruber and Roselyne Chroman Swig.

Kind loan support is provided by the Kramlich Collection and Tate, through the Tate Americas Foundation.

Header image: Janet Cardiff, The Forty Part Motet (installation view, Gallery 308, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture), 2015; co-presented by Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; photo: JKA Photography