Münster Walk


Münster Walk


Audio walk with mixed media props

17 minutes

Curated by Kasper König (with assistant curator Ulrike Groos) for Skulptur

Janet Cardiff

Kasper König invited me to take part in Skulptur. Projekte in Münster 1997 after seeing Louisiana Walk. He was able to conceive of the walk as sculpture, which gave me an insight into my own work. I had never been to Germany before. On my various trips there, I did historical research and I just wandered around. Everything was thickly layered with the past, and imbued with ‘German-ness.’ I decided to work with an older male character because the town was populated with older men wandering around, sitting on benches, unemployed or retired. I kept thinking about their relationship to the war, or about family and friends that they could have lost in the war. So I created a character that was tracing his dead daughter’s footsteps through the town, standing where she would have stood, creating maps and writings of his own wanderings. This story was also inspired by a friend of mine who had just lost her son in a car crash. She tried to follow or reproduce his movements through the landscape by re-photographing many of the photographs he had taken. By looking through the camera at what he would have seen, she could try to recapture some of his memory.

sound of weird repetitive piano banging to left as if it comes from the building

Janet I think this is the Bishop’s house to the left. I’m sorry I can’t tell you the history of these buildings, or give you a real audio tour. I’m just a visitor here. piano gets louder throughout this dialogue. there’s no street noise

Janet It’s strange being here, in this country. Somehow I grew up being afraid of Germany, knowing it only from American war movies and spy novels. piano ends abruptly

Young Man Tell me again, I’ll try to understand..

Janet voice overlaps with man’s voice I remember locking my brother in the closet.

Young Man It’s not your fault. You just saw it.

Janet voice overlaps with man’s voice He was too young to get out. I heard his screams and I laughed.

Janet I’m at home again. I watch the videotape of me walking down the streets, beside the canal. I can only see in front of me, only what the camera shows. I can’t see him following me, counting my footsteps. I lie in bed watching him sleep. One arm above his head. His body twitching, trying to act out his dreams.

Young Man What time is it ? Why aren’t you sleeping

Janet How can you be really sure of anyone.

sound of real Münster comes up again, birds, city noise

Janet Let’s walk again. We have someone to meet …

Janet Go behind the bench to the right across the grass. Towards the stone sculpture that looks like mountains… sound of choir singing to the right, sounds like it is coming from the church. walking sounds, construction sounds, still sound of choir singing

Janet I think this is a Jesuit church. Keep walking straight ahead, across the street. There’s a red car parked here.

Older Man From the tower to the palace. 985 steps.

Janet past the bicycles Last night I dreamt I was flying over Vienna. I remember a deep black sky and the wind rushing against my body. What does flying mean in a dream. sound of professor lecturing from windows at left

Janet I read a book, called Experiments with Time that says dreams are just as much from the future as from the past. I like that idea. go up the stairs. someone runs by you


Even after eight years, I still have some very clear memories about working with Janet Cardiff on the production of Münster Walk. I remember when we recorded the sound of horses’ hooves, which makes up about 2 seconds of the seventeen-minute piece. On a Saturday morning, Janet, George Bures Miller and I met on a deserted path in the middle of some fields near Münster. They brought the equipment, which included a dummy head, and I had arranged for a farmer to bring along two horses and carts. During this meeting, for the first time, I became fully aware of the complexity and technical precision involved in making the walks. The possibility of conveying time processes in audible form and creating complex acoustic representations of space lends the auditory experience a remarkably deceptive authenticity.

At the time of Skulptur. Projekte, I had been living in Münster for almost 10 years, and one of the most surprising and stimulating experiences during the exhibition was how the artists introduced me to new places in the city, or made me aware of them in a different way. The sites that the artists selected were often unfamiliar to longtime residents, although many were close to well-known paths; sometimes, they were hidden or simply hard to access. Janet Cardiff ’s seventeen- minute walk through the area around the Landesmuseum Münster was brought to life by a soundtrack of subtly differentiated voices, sounds and noises. The inclusion of sounds that were out of place, surprising and “unfore-hear-able” led to curious, disconcerting refractions on the perfect surface of an apparently friendly city, and triggering irritating moments of recollection, consternation or even threat by means of alienation. Even today, whenever I am in Münster, moments from Münster Walk – whispered comments, the sound of church bells or horses’ hooves – continue to come to mind when I cross the path or […] I am simply reminded of it by the noises of the city.

Ulrike Groos

Related Publications

Janet Cardiff
The Walk Book

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