Press Office Exhibition

Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture and SFMOMA Bring Artist Janet Cardiff’s Contemporary Sound Masterwork, The Forty Part Motet, to the San Francisco Waterfront This Fall November 14, 2015–January 18, 2016

Released: June 17, 2015 · Last updated: October 01, 2015 · Download (461.6 KB PDF)

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

SAN FRANCISCO—Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) co-present artist Janet Cardiff’s immersive sound installation, The Forty Part Motet, for its California debut at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture November 14, 2015 through January 18, 2016. Previously exhibited at The Cloisters and MoMA PS1 in New York, the High Museum in Atlanta, as well as significant venues throughout the world, this installation is the inaugural exhibition in Gallery 308, a newly renovated historic space at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture.

“We are delighted to present Janet Cardiff’s remarkable masterpiece. This entrancing work has a legacy of inspiring audiences in settings ranging from the spare to the sacred,” said Rich Hillis, executive director of Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture. “Experiencing a 400-year-old motet in this historic space, within view of the San Francisco Bay, will be a powerful addition to that legacy.”

Created in 2001 and considered Cardiff’s masterwork, The Forty Part Motet is a reworking of Spem in Alium by English composer Thomas Tallis (ca. 1505-1585) in a 40-part choral performance. Performed by a choir in Salisbury Cathedral, individually recorded parts play back through 40 speakers arranged in an oval formation. Visitors can walk throughout the installation, listening to individual voices as well as the combined symphony of sounds that together create a transcendent experience. On loan from local collectors Pamela and Richard Kramlich’s world-renowned holdings of video and media art and Tate, through the Tate Americas Foundation, the installation’s 14-minute audio loop includes 11 minutes of singing and three minutes of intermission.

“Cardiff’s address of the audience as a single person, free to move on stage, is part of what makes her work so emotionally intense,” says Rudolf Frieling, curator of media arts at SFMOMA. “She creates a one-to-one relationship between the listener and a human voice that’s very intimate, even in a public setting.”

Sound artist Janet Cardiff is internationally recognized for immersive multimedia works which have been exhibited extensively around the globe. Cardiff originally studied photography and print-making before experimenting with sound and moving image, and first gained international distinction in the art world in the mid-1990s for her site-specific audio walks. Born in Canada, she currently lives in rural British Columbia, and works in collaboration with her husband and partner, George Bures Miller. Representing Canada at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001, Cardiff and Miller received the Biennale's Premio Prize and Benesse Prize. Cardiff and Miller’s work has also been included in recent group exhibitions and biennales such as Soundscapes at The National Gallery, London, the 19th Biennale of Sydney in 2014, and dOCUMENTA (13). The artists also recently debuted new site-specific commissions for Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, The Menil Collection, Houston, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain.

Cardiff’s solo works are included in major public and private collections in the United States and abroad, including SFMOMA’s collection. SFMOMA has additionally commissioned two audio and video works by Cardiff: Chiaroscuro 1 (1997), made for the exhibition Present Tense: Nine Artists in the Nineties; and The Telephone Call (2001), featured in 010101: Art in Technological Times.

The presentation of The Forty Part Motet and the partnership between SFMOMA and the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture conclude SFMOMA On the Go—the museum’s extensive and dynamic off-site programming while its building is temporarily closed for expansion construction. The new SFMOMA will open in spring 2016.

Exhibition Tickets
Tickets are complimentary and can be reserved at MotetTickets.org. Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture supporters and SFMOMA members can reserve tickets beginning on Thursday, October 1. Tickets will be available to the general public on Thursday, October 15. Due to anticipated demand, visitors are encouraged to reserve tickets in advance. A limited number of same-day tickets will be available to visitors throughout the installation.

Artist Talk
Saturday, November 14, 2015, 2 p.m.
Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center

SFMOMA and Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture present an Artist Talk with Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. The artists will discuss the immersive multimedia works in which they utilize complex installation techniques and layered audio tracks to create transcendent multisensory experiences addressing themes such as time, voyeurism, dreams and mystery.

Exhibition Organization
The Forty Part Motet by Janet Cardiff is co-presented by Fort Mason Center 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.

About Gallery 308
The Forty Part Motet is the inaugural installation in Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture’s newest exhibition and venue space, Gallery 308. The 4,000 square-foot gallery space originally housed the maritime trade and repair shops at Fort Mason.

Gallery 308 has been meticulously rehabilitated to its original industrial aesthetic. Restored by Jensen Architects, the creators of SFMOMA’s acclaimed roof-top garden, the sparse yet elegant gallery boasts panoramic views of San Francisco Bay. The transformation of this former military waterfront building into a light-filled arts exhibition and events space is part of a larger campus-wide reinvigoration of the Center’s cultural offerings, and the overarching initiative to enhance the campus’ public spaces, as originally envisioned by 2012 design competition winners West 8.

About Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture
Decommissioned by the U.S. Army in 1962 and converted from a military installation into a nonprofit cultural center in 1977, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture has long been host to a lively mix of arts, educational and cultural programming on San Francisco’s northern waterfront. Each year, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture provides more than $2 million in support to local arts organizations, enabling groups to produce diverse and innovative art works at the historic waterfront campus. With a nearly four-decade history as an arts and culture destination in a National Park setting, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture is now focused on reinvigorating its programming and amenities to better serve and engage the evolving and dynamic Bay Area creative community. Central to this new vision is the commissioning and presentation of adventurous and unconventional art works best realized in nontraditional or historic settings.

In addition to strengthening its artistic programming, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture has recently completed a $21 million renovation of Pier 2, and is currently working with the San Francisco Art Institute to move its graduate program to the pier.

Visit fortmason.org for more information.