AION focuses on four abandoned places – a swimming pool, a concert hall, a gym and an old village church – in the so-called Exclusion Zone in Chernobyl, Ukraine. In the days and weeks after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on 26 April 1986, the local population was evacuated by the Soviet military and had to leave all their belongings behind. The former homes and meeting places were declared to be polluted areas and will continue to be uninhabitable for thousands of years due to radioactive radiation.
Two decades after the catastrophe, Kirkegaard visited Chernobyl, and at the four locations in question, he set up a microphone to record the rooms for 10 minutes. He then played the recordings of the sounds of the room while making a new recording. This process was repeated, and with every recording, the subtle sounds of the room were amplified, and from the seemingly silent spaces, a new sound emerged: the resonance tones of the four abandoned rooms. Analogous with these sound recordings, Kirkegaard worked with overexposure and video feedback to create the visual representation of the four rooms that accompanies the sound recordings.
The title AION originates from Ancient Greek, referring to the unbounded and infinite time that contrasts with empirical time (Chronos), which is divided into past, present and future. Kirkegaard’s work relates to the idea that there is sound in everything, and through these recordings, Kirkegaard connects us to the complexity and particular atmosphere of Chernobyl.
Jacob Kirkegaard, b. 1975, studied at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne in 2006. He has been part of exhibitions at museums in most parts of the world, including MoMA in New York, Mori Art Museum in Tokyo and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk north of Copenhagen. Kirkegaard’s sound art represents a reflection on seemingly unnoticed or unapproachable aspects of the human condition or civilisation. In a combination of scientific research and artistic staging, Kirkegaard reminds us how sounds are often forgotten, or not prioritised, in the modern, visually based world.