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was a very bucolic site, a farm, with animals, forests, and it was
very quiet. Charles Wachtmeister became very involved in the recording
process, taking me to his favorite hunting spots, trudging through
underbrush and fields in the early mornings. He could spot a grouse
or nightingale where I only saw leaves. The site made me work with
very spatial sound effects, a forest filled with ghosts and voices.
the little path to the left, not the main one. It’s covered with
dry leaves. Go to the left of the compost pile.
female voice heard singing, chanting, in faraway
forest … then sound of man’s voice singing in same way,
seeming to answer woman’s voice
to follow the path I’ve made through the woods.
sound of walking on dead leaves
Older Woman Some believed
it was because of the lovers. They had been tied up on to the trees
so that the crows would pick out their eyes and the rains would drown
them in their sorrow.
Janet Stop... sound
of singers singing to each other
Older Woman You can still hear them calling
to each other if you listen. Some nights they cry to the moon to take them away.
sound of singers build then fade, sound of porcupine rustling behind, sound fades
to nothing. fade up bird sounds
Janet Let’s continue. Keep going
Cardiff arrived at Wanås late one snowy evening. We walked
outside in the moonlight. The castle was shrouded in mist. “It’s
like Hollywood,” she gasped. We continued in the dark with only
the moon to guide us. I see well in the dark, but Cardiff was confused.
She had a difficult time finding her way around in general, which
is why it is surprising that she specializes in walks – but maybe
that is precisely why. She devotes herself to doing that which does
not come easily to her. A new part of the park with no art caught
attention – a sunken garden surrounded by a thick stone wall.
When she returned, this cold and wet spring, she walked around with
her recording device equipped with audio and two stereo microphones,
placed the same distance apart as ears. Charles Wachtmeister helped
her record the sounds of early Swedish summer: a hedgehog, pheasant
chickens still in their eggs, newborn calves and insects, cooing
doves and other birds. One evening she recorded our dinner conversation
and instructed the other artists to whistle and yell. On my way home
from the office at midnight one day, I came across Janet Cardiff
recording the clock striking midnight. All she got was the sound
of car wheels on gravel, which became the opening to Wanås Walk.
As the critic Barry Schwabsky wrote, “Cardiff ’s Wanås
Walk might best be described as the sound track for a movie projected
by your brain onto your eye as it takes place in the surrounding
It is an often-unpleasant and complicated story about the end of
the world – and then you hear the pecking of the pheasant chickens,
the buzzing of a wasp, the neighing of horses, the song of the nightingale
and fragments of the artists’ conversation. [...] Janet Cardiff
opened up a totally new part of the park using nothing but sound,
unlike others who carved out a big territory for themselves by placing
a monumental sculpture there. She captured some of the mysterious
and untamed quality of the park.2
1 Barry Schwabsky, Report from Sweden, Surrounded
by Sculpture in Art in America (January 1999) 54 – 56
2 This text was originally published in Marika Wachtmeister, Art at Wanås
(Stockholm: Byggförlaget, 2001)
|***The tracks must be listened with headphones for the full 3-D
Audio walk, 14 min.
Curated by Marika and Charles Wachtmeister for The Wanås