Darren Almond & Jacob Kirkegaard Interview: Beyond the Arctic Void

Swirling winds of diamond dust, rainbow refractions everywhere, deep sounds emanating from under the ice. Artists Darren Almond and Jacob Kirkegaard share their extraordinary experiences of the Arctic.

Meet English artist Darren Almond and Danish artist Jacob Kirkegaard in this video where they talk of their different approaches to the interpretation of the Arctic – Kirkegaard works with sound under the ice, and Almond with pictures over the ice – yet they both share similar observations.

Both Darren Almond and Jacob Kirkegaard have wondered about the space and colors of the Arctic: “If I should imagine the Arctic in sound, I’d definitely imagine something vertical” begins Jacob Kirkegaard. “To me the Arctic existed when the world was flat” says Darren Almond: “I went to the Arctic to experience this flatness.”

“I went looking for the space beynd the space we live in.” Travelling to the Antarctic made Almond aware of how humans occupy the world on a vertical axis, between sea level and treeline. Almond has created numerous works based on his experience of the Arctic, amongst others the Arctic Plate series seen in this video (2003).

“You get these swirling winds of diamond dust, so you get these rainbows refractions everywhere, it’s very hypnotic, mesmeric kind of experience” says Darren Almond — but both he and Kirkegaard call the Arctic a kind of monochrome. It heightens your senses, and makes you focus on all the small details: “What is there? Is there really nothing? Or, wow, there is something.”

Jacob Kirkegaard talks about his experience of the Arctic as well as of the creation of his recent work ISFALD (Icefall) which is audible in the video. The installation is a dark room with sounds rising from precise points on the floor – recordings of ice sheets falling into the sea, melting or scratching against on another.

The Arctic has very deep sounds, and very high sounds, but no sounds in the middle, Kirkegaard says, and explains how he uses his equipment to record the sounds that are almost impossible to hear with the human ear: “The deep sound is so deep, that you can hardly hear it. But you know it’s under the water.”

English artist Darren James Almond (b. 1971) works in a variety of media including photography and film, which he uses to explore the effects of time on the individual. He uses film, photography and sculptural work to harnesses the symbolic and emotional potential of objects, places and situations, producing works which have universal as well as personal resonances.

Almond was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2005, where he exhibited the four-screen video installation If I Had You (2003) about his grandmother — ‘a portrait of youthful reminiscence and the dignity of old age’ In 1996, Almond was awarded the Art & Innovation Prize by the Institute of Contemporary Art, London, followed by his solo exhibition at White Cube, London in 1997. Almond has participated in numerous biennials around the world, including the Venice Biennale in 2003. Almond graduated from Winchester School of Art in 1993, with a BA (hons) degree in Fine Arts.

Danish artist Jacob Kirkegaard (b.1975) is best known for his sound installations, such as ‘AION’ (2006) which was recently part of MoMa’s first major exhibition of sound art: Soundings. AION is a recording of abandoned spaces at Chernobyl. Kirkegaard recorded ten minutes within each space and then played the recording back into the room, layering the sound to create a unique tone emanating from a seeming void.

Kirkegaard focuses on the scientific and aesthetic aspects of sonic perception, exploring acoustic spaces and phenomena that usually remain imperceptible to the immediate ear. Kirkegaard’s sound works focus on investigations into the potential musicality in hidden sound layers in the environment. In this context he has been capturing and exploring sounds from, for example, volcanic earth, ice, atmospheric phenomena, nuclear power plants and deserted places. Recording tools used include accelerometers, hydrophones and home-built electromagnetic receivers.

Kirkegaard is a graduate of the Academy for Media Arts in Cologne (2006) and is currently based in Berlin, Germany. Parallel to his studies, he has been giving lectures on sound and space at the Royal Architect Academy and at the Art Academy in Copenhagen.

Darren Almond was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at Great Western Studios, London, 2013

Jacob Kirkegaard was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner in his installation ISFALD at the ARCTIC exhibition, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2013

Camera by Klaus Elmer (Almond) and Mathias Nyholm (Kirkegaard)

Editing by Martin Kogi

Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Supported by Nordea-fonden


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