In his first Chicago performance, Jacob Kirkegaard presents AION—recorded and filmed in four abandoned spaces inside the radioactive zone around the former nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine.
AION—“infinity” or “eternity” in ancient Greek—was inspired by the groundbreaking sound work I am sitting in a room (1969), by artist Alvin Lucier, in which Lucier recorded himself saying, “I am sitting in a room, different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice.” He then played these phrases back and re-recorded them, until the different layers of his voice began to merge.
Kirkegaard has taken Lucier’s action a step further, recording the resonance of an empty swimming pool, concert hall, gymnasium and church, inside the Chernobyl exclusion area—also called the Zone of Alienation.
The Danish artist put up a microphone and speaker in each space, started the recording and left. After ten minutes, he returned, stopped the recording, played it back into the same room, and made a re-recording. With each new layer, subtle sounds enlarged and deepened until they turned into one rich hum with many overtones. In effect, he has recorded the voices of rooms.
For the visual representation of the four rooms, Kirkegaard explored a variety of techniques, working with layers, overexposure and video feedback, that can be understood as analogous to his acoustical method.
Jacob Kirkegaard (b.1975, Esbjerg, Denmark) is an artist focused on the scientific and aesthetic aspects of resonance, time, sound and hearing. His installations, compositions and performances deal with acoustic spaces and phenomena that usually remain imperceptible. Using unorthodox recording tools, including accelerometers, hydrophones and home-built electromagnetic receivers, Kirkegaard captures and contextualizes previously unheard sounds from a variety of environments: a geyser, a sand dune, an empty room, a glacier, and even the human inner ear itself.
Based in Berlin, Kirkegaard is a graduate of the Academy for Media Arts in Cologne. He has presented his works at exhibitions, festivals and conferences throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark; the Menil Collection, Houston; Rothko Chapel, Houston; Aichi Triennale, Nagoya; and the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. He has released several albums on Touch, Important Records and other labels. He is also a member of the sound art collective freq_out.
Presented in partnership with the Graham Foundation
Artist Talk: Jacob Kirkegaard discusses his audiovisual work in Chernobyl as well as similar projects in Fukushima and other nuclear power plants. Lampo Annex, Monadnock Building, 53 W. Jackson Blvd. #1656. Friday, April 7, 6pm.