the Wire: Adventures in Modern Music, 334, December 2011 issue

Jacob Kirkegaard


fonik works 01@2011

Jacob Kirkegaard seems in a hurry to get away; not to linger in a place that, after all, has, for good reasons, been abandoned by others, and therefore he is possibly right to leave. But maybe his haste also reveals the more general discomfort of the artist to be with his own work, of sitting with himself. Seeing as he does not sit in a room as Alvin Lucier did, but lets the recorder stay in his stead. Maybe the analogy is flawed, but then I did not make it, he did, in his sleeve-notes, impressing on me the idea “I am sitting in a room” when clearly he is not, and does not have to be, but having mentioned it he has underlined his own absence and in turn I notice my own presence in a space I should not be.

This DVD of images and sounds by the Danish artist portrays 4 scenes in the “Zone of Alienation” in Chernobyl, Ukraine. The sound of these four spaces, abandoned after the nuclear disaster in 1986, exists separately as a CD, but here we encounter it restaged as an audio-visual work. The images of a swimming pool, a concert hall, a gymnasium and an old village church frame the recordings of those places: played back and recorded, played back and recorded, again and again until they hum.

The visuals are wontedly beautiful. They hold the familiar intrigue of decay and desertion. But I would rather not see them as they block my access to the sonic place produced by the recorder recording itself. The images, their predictable rhythm of light and dark, the fixed tripod, the abandonment they so contentedly embrace, render the composition a soundtrack and draw it into their own cliché. I close my eyes and another space emerges from the increasing density of the multilayered sound. Now I am in the space I am really in, and maybe that is where he meets Lucier, “…sitting in a room, different from the one you are in now”.  - It might just be that the TV monitor is not adequate to create the space for the sound to unfold. The sonic creates a space, the visual demands space: a lot of white flat space, whose authority affords the image the neutrality to disappear and let the sound come out. If I want to be cynical I think the visuals are an add-on, a nudge to the art market, to be part of its visual world, but then, why not?