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Janet Cardiff. The Forty Part Motet, 2001; installation view, Fuentidueña Chapel at The Cloisters museum and gardens. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo: Wilson Santiago.

Getting to the Janet Cardiff installation at The Cloisters was like a modern-day quest for some kind of Holy Grail, which in the end seemed appropriate. After my phone died at the 191st St. subway stop—leaving me with no guide through the unfamiliar paths of Fort Tryon Park—and after circling the labyrinthine rooms and hallways that make up The Cloister’s architecture, I finally found The Forty Part Motet, Cardiff’s sound installation.

For the 11-minute score, Cardiff reworked the Tudor-era composition Spem in Alium Nunquam Habui (In No Other Is My Hope) (1573) by Thomas Tallis. The piece, originally intended for recital in churches and cathedrals, logically suits the religious iconography of The Cloisters, while also mirroring the compound’s collaged nature. Constructed in reference to no singular structure, the Cloisters function as an ensemble of many historical precedents. In the Fuentidueña Chapel, Catalan frescos of the Virgin and Child as well as the Adoration of the Magi cover the walls, and a life-size wooden crucifix hangs at the foot of the 12-century apse. The installation of The Forty Part Motet bridges both centuries and geographic borders.

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Amelia Rina
Daily Serving

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A preservation fight has erupted over LG Electronics’ plan to build a headquarters that would compromise the Cloisters museum’s view across the Hudson River. (Photo: Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times)

After John D. Rockefeller Jr. donated land for the Cloisters museum in northern Manhattan, he went a step further in the 1930s and bought the cliffs across the Hudson River in New Jersey to preserve the museum’s pristine view of the Palisades.

Now his grandson Larry Rockefeller; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which owns the Cloisters; and other groups are fighting to preserve that vista, which they say is threatened by a new corporate headquarters to be built in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

As designed, the headquarters for LG Electronics USA, a major employer and taxpayer in that borough, would be 143 feet tall and rise several stories above the tree line.

“The Palisades really rests at the heart of the conservation legacy, if you will, which our family has left, and is leaving, to America,” Mr. Rockefeller, 68, said in a telephone interview from the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, which his family also helped preserve.

“No one’s opposed to the building per se,” he continued. “I’m certainly not. It’s just the design of it being tall and so visible.”

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Robin Pogrebin
New York Times

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