Janet Cardiff: The Forty Part Motet
Fort Tilden’s military chapel—which was damaged by Hurricane Sandy and is now being restored—showcased one of the highlights from the MoMA collection. The Forty Part Motet (2001) by Janet Cardiff is a spatialized adaptation of a sacred 16th-century motet created by recording each member of a choir individually and giving each voice its own speaker.
Cardiff's installation is a reworking of a choral piece for 40 male voices (bass, baritone, alto, tenor, child soprano) by Tudor composer Thomas Tallis, which he likely composed for Queen Elizabeth's 40th birthday in 1573.
The audio component of The Forty Part Motet is a 14-minute loop: 11 minutes of singing and three minutes of intermission. A visitor can stand in the middle of the installation and hear all 40 voices as they unify into one musical piece or move close to an individual loudspeaker for an intimate experience with a single voice.
Rockaway! was made possible through the generous support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Rockefeller Foundation and The Secunda Family Foundation with additional support provided by the Moore Charitable Foundation, National Grid and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Special thanks to Volkswagen of America for their past and current support.