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Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud

“The Forty
Part Motet”

Janet Cardiff

Regarded as one of the greatest monastic cities in Europe, the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud is striking by its prodigious architectural diversity. Part of the Network of Cultural Centres-historic monuments (CCR) since 1975, the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud is famous for its history and its creations.

Janet Cardiff, born in Canada in 1957, lives and works between Berlin and Grinrod in British Columbia. Like many artist of her generation, Janet Cardiff chose to work with a variety of media, like videos, installations or recorded sounds. Since 1995, she is famous throughout the world for her audio and video hikes; visitors, equipped with a Walkman or a camcorder, walk around following her instructions, hence participating to her stories.

The Forty Part Motet (2001) revisits choral music from the Renaissance. Janet Cardiff uses a musical piece from the English composer Thomas Tallis (1514-1585) and separately records forty voices from the Salisbury Festival Choir; then, forty speakers, placed strategically, play these recordings. The visitor becomes the heart of one of the most complex choral polyphony ever composed. She creates a space where he can enter the music, either by listening to the piece, or by going towards each and every voice.


The Forty Part Motet (2001) : version retravaillée de “Spem in Amlium Nunquam Habui” de Thomas Tallis (1573) Chanté par : Salisbury Cathedral Choir – Enregistrement et Post production : SoundMoves / Édité par George Bures Miller / Produit par Field Art Projects avec l’Arts Council of England, the Salisbury Festival, BALTIC Gateshead, the New Art Gallery Walsall et le Festival NOW de Nottingham.

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