T H R O U G H  T H E  W A L L

Installation. 30-minute composition from field recordings, looped. 2013 - 2017 - 2018

Through the Wall consists of recorded sound from both sides of the Israeli West Bank Barrier – an eight-meter concrete wall also known as the ‘Apartheid wall’. The use of both ambient microphones and vibration sensors placed directly on the concrete surfaces reveals a merging sound environment from both sides of the wall. The installation is constructed as a physical wall with built-in speakers

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In the following text Jacob Kirkegaard talks about the work The text was edited by Julie Martin. Published in Kirkegaard's book Earside Out. Museum of Contemporary Art, DK, 2015

"Through the Wall is an attempt to listen to the wall the Israelis are building to define their border with Palestine. While in 2014 the German capital celebrates the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, somewhere else in the world another wall is still being built.
I wanted to go there and listen to the wall itself. Like other places I’ve traveled to – Greenland, Chernobyl and Fukushima – it is impossible not to recognize the political issues that surround them. But in my works I find it important to refrain from directly expressing an opinion, mine or that of others, on the political and social issues raised: global warming, nuclear reactor safety or in the case of Israel/Palestine, the conflict surrounding the presence of the wall that continues to be built on occupied territory. I know what my feelings and political standpoints are about the whole situation, but my work should emphasize the importance of listening. And in this case I wanted to listen to the wall, and to both sides of it. To hear what the wall itself has to say.

I wanted to place my vibration sensor on each side of it, in a manner similar to leaning my ear to the wall. Since the Israelis have equipped their wall with several control towers from which they can shoot, I didn’t like to stand in sight of the towers fiddling with my audio cables and electronic looking devices. So I tried to do my vibration recordings in places that weren’t directly guarded. But I found that the wall, which is a massive slab of concrete, doesn’t resonate much anyway. So most of my recordings were made with my acoustic microphones held close to the surface of the wall. The microphones I used are very sensitive, creating sonic access to lower vibrations, and I was able to record a deep rumble every- where along the wall. I also picked up sounds like the call to prayer from the Palestinian cities and villages that fly freely over the wall and into the Zionist settlements on the other side.
I wanted to record at the same place on both sides of the wall, but this became absurd. I would have to travel far along the wall to reach and then wait in line at armed check-points. Then when finally reaching the other side, it was impossible to figure out exactly where I had stood on the other side. This difficulty only emphasized the feeling of separation, alienation and forced isolation the wall creates.

The wall is dense, stubborn and present. While it is difficult to clearly differentiate between the sounds from the two sides of the wall, there is a world of a difference between the physical environment and the realities of life on the two sides. On one side the wall sometimes surrounds a tiny house, or creates dead-end corridors where the shops have lost most of their customers, while on the other side a large new recreation area with park and playground is being constructed."


Installation shots from Through the Wall at Biennale of Sydney, Photos by Jacquie Manning, 2018