BERLIN 2022 /

Jacob Kirkegaard


OPUS MORS (2019)


Sound installation and live performance ● Location: Archenhold Observatory, Small Observatory (garden) ● Photo: Daniela Arriado

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OPUS MORS crafts a complex space for an audible experience of the molecular modification of matter once life’s state of consciousness has ended. The body of work consists of four parts, each composed of sound recordings of the four environments that the human body could be surrounded by or exposed to in the immediate post-mortem: a morgue, autopsy, decomposition, and cremation—events that we would not be able to sense in our own body.

Opus Mortuarium reveals the ambiance inside a morgue heard through the slow and deep tones from the facilities that keep the corpses cold. Opus Autopsia is a detailed and precise near-field sound recording of a complete autopsy, including the dissection of the body, the removal and slicing of the organs, and the recomposition and cleansing of the body. Opus Crematio is the sound portrait of a cremation across its different burning stages—from the moment the coffin is rolled into the oven to the relocation of the ashes in the cooler and bone crusher. Opus Putesco is realized at a scientific facility where donated corpses are placed in an enclosed area to decompose naturally and are being studied to understand the different phases and help analyze shreds of evidence in forensic studies.

OPUS MORS, and in particular Opus Putesco, activates our mind’s resistance to the thought of death and bodily decay, resignifying the notion of human decomposition as a natural transformation (or re-composition) into another matter. After all, the word human derives from the Latin humus, “soil.” The interaction between organic and inorganic matter is a prerequisite for the existence of life itself, which is the result of a singular dance between the two.

Opus Putesco is installed at the Small Observatory, adjacent to the main building at Archenhold Observatory. Opus Autopsia is performed live by the artist.

Jacob Kirkegaard

Jacob Kirkegaard’s work explores ways to reflect on complex, unnoticed, or unapproachable conditions and environments. Since 2006 Kirkegaard has also been extensively researching, recording, and creating works using otoacoustic emissions—tones generated from the actual human ear. The core element and method of his work lies in the use of sound recordings of the tangible aspects of its intangible themes.

Kirkegaard’s sound works have been released on Important Records (USA), Touch (UK), and Posh Isolation (DK). He is a founding member of the sound art collective freq_out as well as the not-for-profit arts organization TOPOS. In 2016 Kirkegaard was the sound artist in residency at St. John's College, University of Oxford (UK.). In 2022, he was appointed a 6-month guest professorship at the School of Music, Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

His works have been part of exhibitions at MoMA (New York, USA), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and ARoS Aarhus Art Museum (Denmark), The Menil Collection and at the Rothko Chapel (Houston, USA), The Sydney Biennale (Australia), Aichi Triennale (Nagoya), the Mori Art Museum (Tokyo, Japan), among others. In 2022 Kirkegaard received the Eckersberg Medal from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in recognition of outstanding achievements in the arts.

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