Mira Calix, experimental electronic musician and sound installation artist – obituary

In 2012 she erected Nothing is Set in Stone, a singing stone shaped like a mammoth egg, on a grassy hill at Fairlops Waters, near Romford. Made up of thousands of round stones, it emitted a melody that varied depending on who walked past and at what speed. Boris Johnson, then mayor of London, noted at the time: “Mira Calix has managed to wrest not blood, but music from a stone.”

While Mira Calix’s work could initially appear incomprehensible, with strange lighting and haunting sounds, those who approached it with an open mind often found it moving. She recalled an elderly couple in Durham Cathedral in 2009, where she was installing Chorus, a hypnotic work with eight black pendulums swinging back and forth emitting light and sound.

“This very old woman didn’t think about the technology … that wasn’t a barrier to her at all,” she told the journalist Jude Rogers. “It cemented this in me: that people like fantasy … people also like fairy tales. And they like abstractions. Art isn’t just for arseholes. People can handle it.”

Chantal Francesca Passamonte was born in Durban, South Africa, on October 28 1969, the only child of Gabriele and Riccarda Passamonte, Italian immigrants who every year visited their extended family in Italy, often travelling on to France and England.

As a child she tried to learn the clarinet, but without success. During her teens she had the magazine Melody Maker shipped to South Africa, but it invariably took six weeks to arrive “so everything I’d read about had already happened”.

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