Louisiana Walk


Louisiana Walk


Audio walk

11 minutes

Curated by Bruce Ferguson for the group exhibition Walking and Thinking and Walking, part of NowHere

Janet Cardiff

This is the first walk that really became a filmic soundtrack and it created a format or style that I have been experimenting with ever since. The narrative uses the device of a man offsite watching a surveillance video of a woman walking in the garden. This woman, my voice, communicates with him through the image he sees. She also refers to his postcards of the museum grounds that he sent her years before. They are trying to locate a moment in time when things went wrong between them.

start to hear accordion music … crows in trees to right. Accordion player walks around listener

Janet Let’s stop and listen, close your eyes, trust me.

Janet I have the postcard of this place that he sent me years ago. Things have changed a lot. The grass is long now, coming up through the stones on the walk here. The building in front of us is gutted, the windows broken, skylights caved in, the brick walls singed by smoke. The sculptures are covered with graffiti. The old house is still standing, partially protected by the razor wire fence around it I guess. Someone’s cooking something. Smells like burnt meat.

sound of fire, dogs barking to right, then jet goes by overhead

George whispers in left ear All I could see on the video was you walking along this path but I couldn’t see in front of you, to see what was to come.

walking sound, sound of explosions, seagulls … then silence

Janet We’re back. It’s like the picture again, beautiful green lawn. People walking around, sound of birds someone’s giving a lecture. Let’s stop and listen.

sound of museum tourguide lecturing about Moore sculpture talking about its solidity and how the figures are trapped in time. she talks about Moore saying that sculpture is like a journey. after you’ve walked around it, your view has changed

Janet One simple action can change things so much. If only I hadn’t looked out to sea right at that particular point.

George whispers in left ear I think we should try it one more time.

Janet He’s with us, trying to find that precise moment, lost in the particles on the videotape.

I commissioned Janet Cardiff to create this walk in the park for a group exhibition featuring contemporary artworks that drew upon perambulation or peripatetic thinking or a combination of both. Her piece guided spectators through the nearby landscape, starting from an exit door near the far end of the museum and near the sea itself. The soundtrack mentioned specific views and objects, but it also included intimate histories and the impression of planes overhead or a jogger from behind. The fictional and the factual alternated for the visitor who was ‘choreographed’ through headphones. Particularly memorable was the way in which the narrative isolated the visitor from the landscape and, at the same time, involved them by virtue of specific visual references. This pull between the intimate and the unknowable, as well as the private and the public, grew stronger as the walk progressed. The walk was an exercise of trust between the artist and the participants, who never knew where they were being led, or really even why, and it engendered an active and engaged attitude in the audience and their relationship to art. I also remember how I was smiling all along the way, because the narrative gave me such great pleasure.

Bruce Ferguson

Related Publications

Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller
Louisiana Contemporary

Michael Juul Holm and Mette Marcus


Distributed by Buchandlung Walther Koenig

ISBN 87-91607-32-9

Janet Cardiff
The Walk Book

Thyssen_Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna in collaboration with Public Art Fund, New York