Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sound sculpture kicks off WAG, National Gallery deal

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THE artist said she "wanted to be able to climb inside the music."

And that's pretty much what visitors will feel when they're standing in the middle of Janet Cardiff's famous sound sculpture at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Cardiff's Forty-Part Motet, a 14-minute reworking of Spem in Alium, a Renaissance choral work by Thomas Tallis, kicks off the WAG's three-year partnership with the National Gallery of Canada. It runs until April 21.

The sound installation features 40 separately recorded choir voices played back through 40 speakers on black stands -- grouped in eight mini-choirs of five voices each -- arranged in an oval in an otherwise empty gallery.

"This is a work everyone has to experience once in their lives. It's very moving; people typically cry," says Marc Mayer, NGC director and CEO, who was in town recently for the official launch of the NGC@WAG program.

Under the renewable three-year deal, the two institutions will present exhibitions showcasing works from the Ottawa gallery's permanent collection -- both Canadian and international -- in a dedicated space called The National Gallery of Canada at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

The partnership coincides with 2013 being the WAG's centennial.

Mayer assures it won't be just a satellite of the national gallery. "It's a real partnership, it's a new model," he says.

"Instead of just sending a bunch of exhibition ideas across the country, we're planning a customized program. In the process, we get to know the audience here. Winnipeg has its own visual arts culture."

This is the NGC's third such partnership with other Canadian galleries. It signed on with the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton in 2009 and with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Toronto in 2010.

Other NGC pieces to be exhibited at the WAG this year include an installation of more than 20 sculptures and drawings by French-American artist Louise Bourgeois and The Clock, New York-based sound and video artist Christian Marclay's 24-hour ode to time and cinema.

Bourgeois, who died in 2010 at 98, is best known in Ottawa for her bronze spider statue, Maman, which is more than nine metres tall and greets visitors on the NGC's plaza. Her works will be at NGC@WAG from May to September.

The Clock, which is composed of thousands of time-referencing movie clips compiled into a 24-hour, single-channel, real-time video, will run from September to November.

carolin.vesely@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 22, 2013 D3

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