Release of 27.01.2022
Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, The Murder of Crows, 2008. Commissioned by TBA21 Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary for the 16th Biennale of Sydney 2008
TBA21 Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Collection
Installation view: Park Avenue Armory, New York, United States of America, 2012
Photo: James Ewing | OTTO Archive, New York
Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller
The Murder of Crows, 2008
February 17–July 31, 2022
Opening: February 17, 5:00–8:00 p.m.
Matadero Madrid, Madrid
Madrid, Spain (27 January 2022). Matadero Madrid and TBA21, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary present The Murder of Crows, the monumental installation by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller that explores the sculptural and physical attributes of sound. Commissioned by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary for the 16th Biennale of Sydney (2008) and presented as part of the celebrations of TBA21’s 20th anniversary, the installation signifies the foundation’s long-term commitment to supporting the realization of groundbreaking artworks. The commission is being presented in Spain for the first time and represents the artist duo’s largest installation to date.
The ninety-eight loudspeakers that make up The Murder of Crows fill the space of the former slaughterhouse in Madrid, emitting voices and music in a soundscape created by a special ambisonic recording and replay techniques. The installation is conceived like a film or a play in which images and narratives are created via sound. The result is a thirty-minute long, three-part work that impacts the listener’s consciousness.
The Murder of Crows takes its title from the English term for a flock of crows. It draws on old folk traditions and superstitions, but also the powerful image that generates a “crow funeral”:when a crow dies, “a murder of crows did circle round” as Nick Cave’s song ‘The Carny’ (1986) goes, mourning it. They remain quiet and still for a short time, only to then break into a chorus of shrill calls.
Another reference for this piece is Francisco Goya’s etching The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters from the series ‘Los Caprichos’ (1799). In this suite of etchings, Goya, in the spirit of the Enlightenment, took a critical look at the tyranny, ignorance, and superstition of a socio-political class that had chosen stagnation as their only strategy. He warned: “Imagination abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters.” A call that is still current in a society defined by conflicts, wars, and catastrophes, where power is based, on many occasions, on superstition and populism.
Storytelling is at the center of this piece, a place where dreams become the main narrative structure, an ancestral source of wisdom that defies the limits of reality and calls for new readings of the current times. This unique soundscape creates a narrative about three dreams of conflicts, violence, and loss (and mourning) of a world in crisis, which is at the same time a haunted call for hope.
February 16, 7:00 p.m.,
Janet Cardiff with Estrella de Diego, essayist, professor at the Universidad Complutense (UCM) in Madrid, and a full academy member of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid, introduced by Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, founder and chairwoman, TBA21.
Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid
February 19, 12:00 p.m.,
Janet Cardiff with artist Ragnar Kjartansson and TBA21 artistic director Daniela Zyman, will discuss the long-term commissioning practice of TBA21, introduced by Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, founder and chairwoman, TBA21.
Matadero Madrid, Madrid
About Cardiff Miller
Janet Cardiff, born 1957, and George Bures Miller, born 1960, live and work in British Columbia. They are internationally recognized for their immersive multimedia sound installations and their audio/video walks. They have recently shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Monterrey, Mexico (2019); Oude Kerk, Amsterdam (2018); 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan (2017); Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (2017); ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, Denmark (2015); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2015); Menil Collection, Houston (2015); 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014); the Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2013); and Documenta 13, Kassel (2012). In 2011, they received Germany’s Käthe Kollwitz Prize, and in 2001, represented Canada at the 49th Venice Biennale, for which they received the International Prize and the Benesse Prize.
TBA21 Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary is a leading international art and advocacy foundation created in 2002 by the philanthropist and collector Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, representing the fourth generation of the Thyssen family’s commitment to the arts and public service. The TBA21 Foundation—based in Madrid and Vienna, with situated projects in Venice and Cordoba—stewards the TBA21 Collection and its outreach activities, which include exhibitions, fellowships, residencies, educational and public programming and policy interventions. All activity is fundamentally driven by artists and the belief in art and culture as a carrier of societal transformation and change. In 2011, TBA21 established a new research center, TBA21–Academy, as a cultural ecosystem fostering a deeper relationship to the Ocean through the lens of art to inspire care and action. For a decade, the Academy has been an incubator for collaborative research, artistic production, and new forms of knowledge by combining art and science. TBA21 is continually extending its advocacy work by sparking new collaborations across the arts, humanities and sciences, partnering with other research and educational organizations, institutions, municipalities and communities around the world proliferating our guiding principles of regeneration and care. In 2022, the 20th anniversary year of the foundation, a new situated project is launched in a three-year partnership with the City of Córdoba, which will encompass an array of exhibitions created from the collection as well as residencies, performances, and educational programs at C3A Córdoba and in public space.
Matadero Madrid – Centre for Contemporary Creation is run by Madrid City Council’s Department of Culture, Tourism and Sport. Created in 2006, Matadero is located in the city’s former slaughterhouse and cattle market, a complex that is of great historical and architectural value, has tremendous character and is a focal point for Madrid’s citizens. Its various spaces host an extensive programme of exhibitions, plays, festivals, concerts, films and audiovisual projects, conferences, conversations and workshops, artistic residencies, educational programmes and activities for families. It is a vibrant place, dedicated to the enjoyment of culture, to artistic experimentation and to discussing ideas in the fields of the visual, performing and visual arts, design, literature, digital culture, architecture and many other creative practices.
TBA21 Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary
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