Janet Cardiff: Forty-Part Motet

The publicly and critically acclaimed Forty-Part Motet is now back on display at the National Gallery of Canada. This brilliant sound sculpture by Canadian artist Janet Cardiff is a reworking of Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis, a 16th-century English composer. Forty separately-recorded choir voices are played back through 40 speakers positioned around the NGC’s Rideau Chapel.

The effect of the work on visitors is deeply moving, earning it a popularity rarely encountered by contemporary art. "Most people experience this piece now in their living rooms in front of only two speakers," says Janet Cardiff. "Even in a live concert the audience is separated from the individual voices. Only the performers are able to hear the person standing next to them singing a different harmony. I wanted to be able to climb inside the music."


Thursday, December 19, 2013 Friday, January 8, 2016


National Gallery of Canada
Indigenous and Canadian Galleries
Rideau Chapel
380 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1N 9N4