‘The Overheard’: Listening to the wall

‘The Overheard’, an ongoing art installation that explores the power of sound in objects, will appear throughout Aarhus’ year of culture in different venues, provoking audible sensations in their audiences.

by Ella Navarro, photos by Giang Pham

Presented by Marie Koldkjær Højlund, Morten Riis and Aarhus University, ‘The Overheard’ is an invitation to the spectator to live the environment and the balance between music, noise and ambient sounds.

“The idea behind ‘The Overheard’ comes partly from our own artistic practices, in which we explore different listening modes, the various mediation layers that sounds undergo, and experimentation with alternative ways of generating sound. But the idea also comes from our research practice, where we investigate different sound ontologies and new ways of conceptualising sound and music,” explains Riis.

Three different experiences
Divided into three complementary artistic interventions, you are invited to mix a real-time soundtrack online, combining different sounds playing through live streams. Enjoy six outdoor sound sculptures placed around the Central Denmark Region, as well as live concerts with bands and ensembles that incorporate the streamed soundscape into their songs and compositions. Cancer, Simon Christensen and Xenia Xamanek Lopez will play later this year, and more performances by Jacob Bro & Mike Sheridan and Sandra Boss will be announced on ‘The Overheard’ Facebook page.

Part of the outdoor section of  ‘The Overheard’ premiered on March 1st at the Rå Hall in Godsbanen with Swiss artist Zimoun’s site-specific installation.

Exploring sound through everyday objects
Difficult to find in the huge Godsbanen, one is asked for silence before entering the hall. It is an exhibition deprived of words, where internationally acclaimed Swiss artist Zimoun has installed a long set of boxes that hang from the ceiling. Exactly 2030 cardboard boxes of 35cm x 35cm x 35cm are stand tied together in front of the beholder, equipped with 435 prepared dc-motors to make them move.

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At a simple glance, the boxes look like bricks; like a Jenga tower that is about to fall. The movement of the boxes creates a strong sound that invades the hall. This sound generates tension in the room, one that makes you want to stay silent and listen whilst you walk from one end to the other. Its immensity has the power to make you feel small, insignificant.

The setting is minimalist – typical of Zimoun, who looks to question our conceptualisation of noise through his work. The artist’s intention is to provoke a detailed listening from those who enter the hall: What does it feel like to stand in front of this immense artwork, composed of everyday materials? It is an experience that certainly differs for each participant.

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“The overall mission of ‘The Overheard’ is to invite the audience to explore different ways of listening to pieces of art, but also their everyday sounding environment. Thus we wish to invite all to actively tune into the surroundings with us, and begin to rethink accustomed distinctions between sound, music, noise and environment. The aim is to develop an attentive ear, and inspire everyone to form a subtle relationship with everyday noises,” says Riis.

A total of 70 people helped set up Zimoun’s exhibition at Godsbanen. Check out the building process in the video below, and be sure to stop by to see it with your own eyes. Don’t forget to open your ears, and listen.


Godsbanen is located at Skovgaardgade 3. The entrance to the exhibition is at 3A.
Opening hours: 09:00 – 18:00 daily. It will be on show until March 30th. 

Coming up next in ‘The Overheard’:
Listen to Store Ø, Silkeborg – April 7th – August 20th
Listen to Mønsted Kalkgruber, Viborg – May 20th – August 15th
Listen to Gimsinghoved Park, Struer – opens June 2nd (permanent)
Listen to the rooftop of the Old Water Tower in Horsens – August 4th – November 1st
4140 VOICES, Mindeparken, Aarhus – July 1st – September 1st

Follow this link for more information on each of the outdoor locations.

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