A sound installation in Thorvaldsens Museum

From November 11, 2011 to February 12, 2012

The sound installation DETOURS was a composition consisting of concrete sounds, rhythms and intuitive voiceovers followed in the museum in the course of a single day. The installation was an audio guide and was created especially for Thorvaldsens Museum by the two artists Camilla Bachiry and Maria Diekmann.

Everyday Sounds

In Thorvaldsens Museum, Bertel Thorvaldsen’s white sculptures and the colourful, decorated galleries together form a carefully planned visual constellation; it is all about visual impressions. Sound, on the other hand, has never before been given any independent significance – except, of course, in the case of special musical events. But it is nevertheless a fact that sounds play a background role in visitors’ experience of day-to-day life in the museum: the sounds of other visitors speaking, noise entering from the streets outside, a pair of clacking high heels in the corridors, a hiss from the coffee machine in the museum shop, the loud voices of a group of schoolchildren that can suddenly creating a feeling like that of an indoor swimming pool, the voice of a guide in one of the distant galleries – all those chance sounds that visitors may well sense without being aware of them.

DETOURS – a sound installation

For some years, the museum has had an audio guide in Spanish and English, informing about the works to those who are particularly interested. The voice of someone speaking in the headphones of the audio guide thus excludes the museum’s own sounds for the time being. The sound installation DETOURS was also an audio guide which makes use of headphones, but it was not interested in the informative content of the traditional audio guide. This installation was about real sounds, but it did not limit itself only to the museum’s own sounds. It mixed them with sounds recorded in Rome, where Thorvaldsen lived for many years, with voiceover and with sounds from other audio guides in foreign languages and so on. The result of this was an imaginative, auditive cosmos that created the illusion of breaking out of the walls of the museum. DETOURS thus offered an alternative audio guide that took the visitor on surprising paths around and outside the museum and out into the world. DETOURS was not linked to any specific place in the museum, but started in the entrance hall and then left it to the listener to move freely around on the ground floor of the museum.

Visitors could borrow an audio guide from the museum shop by leaving a picture ID as a deposit.

Duration: 12 minutes.

About the artists

Camilla Bachiry (b. 1976) trained in the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art in 2011. By means of installation, video, performance and posters, she questions structures and organisational forms between individuals and society.

Maria Diekmann (b. 1981) trained in the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art in 2009 and has an MA in Aural and Visual Cultures from Goldsmiths College, London. Her artistic work examines musical, museum-related and artistic forms of expression. She is co-founder of the work partnership “eget værelse” and the group “Selvhenter”.

The project was supported by the City of Copenhagen Visual Arts Committee, the Danish Arts Foundation and the Danish Art Workshops.

The sound installation was created especially for Thorvaldsens Museum by the two artists Camilla Bachiry and Maria Diekmann.

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