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Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller at the Forum

The Forty-Part Motet & Night Canoeing

The Forum's first exhibition for 2009 featured work by artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller: a mutual dialogue and a powerful appeal to the senses.

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller at the Forum
© Atsushi Nakamichi / Nacása and Partners Inc

Canadian artists and life partners Janet Cardiff (born in 1957) and George Bures Miller (born in 1960) divide their time between their home country, and Berlin. Often working in concert, their joint show at the Forum in Tokyo, comprises two installations, each occupying a portion of the exhibition space.

George Bures Miller's video installation Night Canoeing draws the viewer into the darkness of a cavern, in which art is born and embarks on the descent of a river, leaving strange impressions in its wake. Lit by candles, prehistoric animals seem to move, waterlilies rise up out of the water, revealed and obscured by swirling mist. Drips echo, like eerie music.

The Forty-Part Motet, by Janet Cardiff, is an equally disturbing piece created in sound alone. Forty loudspeakers positioned throughout the exhibition space each broadcast the voice of an individual singer. Moving amongst them, the body experiences the "volume" of the space as a physical sensation. There is nothing to be seen, only heard. This impalpable work seems to disintegrate, attaining almost mythical status.

Through their spatial configuration and lack of solid, palpable components, the sound and video installations communicate a powerful emotional charge, disrupting our habitual means of perception.

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