Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller

14.03. – 17.05.2009
Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof
Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin / Historical Hall

The Murder of Crows (2008)
Mixed Media Sound Installation

Photo: Roland März

With their largest sound installation to date, »The Murder of Crows«, the two Canadian artists Janet Cardiff und George Bures Miller continue the explorations they embarked on in the mid-1990s into the sculptural and physical attributes of sound. In the otherwise empty historical hall of the Hamburger Bahnhof, 98 loudspeakers will be installed. These emit sounds of voices, music and soundscapes generated by special stereophonic recording and replay techniques, creating a composition that has a direct physical impact on the listener. The special Ambisonic soundfield system generates a greatly intensified aural and emotional space. The installation is conceived as a theatre play or film whose images and narrative structures are created by sound alone. The piece is 30 minutes long.

The installation’s title, »The Murder of Crows«, refers both to the English term for a flock of those birds and to the strange occurrence known as a ‘crow funeral’: when a crow dies, many other crows converge around the body and caw for over 24 hours, perhaps in lament. Another central reference is the etching »The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters« by Francisco de Goya from the series »The Caprices« (Los Caprichos, 1799). From a megaphone speaker lying on a table at the centre of the installation comes the voice of Janet Cardiff, relating a sequence of thoughts and dreams; like Goya’s sleeping man, she is a captive of her own nightmare visions. The sound piece, composed in collaboration with Freida Abtan, Tilman Ritter, and Titus Maderlechner, becomes a requiem for a world that has lost its bearings.

Janet Cardiff (*1957) and George Bures Miller (*1960) live and work in Berlin and in Grindrod, British Columbia, Canada. Their works have been exhibited in venues including the Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh; Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Barcelona; MAM Miami Art Museum; Stockholm Konsthall; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk; Kunsthaus Bregenz; Portikus, Frankfurt; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; P.S.1, New York; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Montreal; MOCA, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and at the Venice Biennale.

The exhibition »The Murder of Crows« is one in the series of »Works of Music by Visual Artists« which has been presented since 1999 by Freunde Guter Musik Berlin e.V. in collaboration with Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, and since 2002 also with MaerzMusik – Festival of Contemporary Music | Berliner Festspiele. The work was commissioned by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna for the Biennale of Sydney 2008, where it was first realized.

Ingrid Buschmann, Freunde Guter Musik Berlin e.V.
Gabriele Knapstein, Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof

A presentation of Freunde Guter Musik Berlin e.V. Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna. In collaboration with MaerzMusik 2009 | Berliner Festspiele. Made possible by funding from Hauptstadtkulturfonds and Canada Council for the Arts. With support from Bowers & Wilkins Speakers and Canadian Embassy, Berlin. With thanks to Biennale of Sydney 2008, Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin, and Luhring Augustine, New York.

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