2017 marks the centenary of the sale of Denmark’s colony in the West Indies, which is the fulcrum of Jacob Kirkegaard and Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard’s new sound installation made specifically for Overgaden’s ground floor. Recordings from the islands are used to create imaginings of this alleged ‘Paradise Lost’: the loss of something once possessed.
Despite increasing, political awareness of Denmark’s role as a colonial power, many Danish travel agencies continue to sell a paradisiacal idealisation of the former Danish colony. Every year thousands of Danish tourists cross the Atlantic to experience the ‘Danish West Indies’. But what is the appeal? Is it the climate, culture, food and beaches? Or is it some nostalgic dream of past glory?
This is the question at the heart of Jacob Kirkegaard and Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard’s exhibition at Overgaden. During their artistic research, they follow in the footsteps of tourist brochures to the former Danish colony. The sound installation is presented in a room bathed in green light, reminiscent of the green screens used in film – blank backgrounds for the subsequent insertion of a fictional setting that makes it possible for people to appear in impossible worlds. Using this green light, the artists aim to place the listener in ‘exotic’ surroundings that are solely the product of the individual’s subjective imagination. This reflects the artists’ interest in sound as a physical material and bodily anchor point, something they use in Vestindiske Forestillinger (‘West Indian Imaginings‘) to translate Danish post- colonial consciousness 2017 into audible form.
The two sound artists have collaborated before, but also have their own, individual practice. Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard works with the multiplication of sound to extend it beyond its usual boundaries, where it re-emerges transformed. He also creates imaginary musical works that the listener has to envisage before their inner ear. Via his works, Løkkegaard aims to push our understandings of what is real. A survey of Jacob Kirkegaard’s work reveals a predominant interest in acoustic phenomena that are often either overheard or inaudible to the human ear. Using a range of recording methods, he transforms his material into compositions as well as spatial, visual and sound works. Kirkegaard’s works thus listen to what is beyond the immediately apparent, challenging our perception of ourselves and the world surrounding us.
Jacob Kirkegaard (b. 1975) is an artist and composer and graduate of the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. He has exhibited at MoMA in New York, Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde. His most recent exhibition was a solo show at ARoS Aarhus Art Museum.
Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard (b. 1979) is a sound artist and composer who studied at Denmark’s Rhythmic Music Conservatory and the School of Architecture of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. He has created a wide range of works and sound releases that operate at the intersection of experimental music and sound art, and also created the soundtrack for MoMA’s René Magritte exhibition The Mystery of the Ordinary in 2013.