We want to use cookies that improve your experience on our site, help us analyze site performance and usage, and enable us to show relevant marketing content.

This summer at Kunstnernes Hus ☀️
Open today 11-17 (Restaurant 11-22)

Maia Urstad

Do You Hear That Whistling Sound?
Maia Urstad Do You Hear That Whistling Sound 034

In the summer of 2024, we have the pleasure of presenting solo exhibitions by two generations of artists who work with sound as a focal point: Pearla Pigao (born in 1984) and Maia Urstad (born in 1954). The artists process sound in very different ways and place the visitor in different positions as listener. Urstad invites us on a journey into our everyday sound universe in an exhibition that reflects on the transience of technology and the auditory traces we leave behind, which are part of our collective unconscious.

Wherever we are, we leave traces behind. Auditory traces, electronic traces, and a stream of signals that hold different meanings in different eras.

Maia Urstad

About the exhibition

Maia Urstad’s exhibition invites us into a soundscape that is both familiar and unfamiliar. We are surrounded by signals and voices that range from beneath the ocean surface, to the terrestrial planes we inhabit, and extending far into the universe. For the artist, these human-generated blips, beeps and communications are time markers in our collective sound history. The sounds are abstracted and processed by the artist into an immersive composition created in and for the skylight hall.

Taxi radios in Buenos Aires, calls to prayer in Ramallah, street protests in Santiago de Chile, wind on islands off the West Coast of Norway, the Oslo tram... Urstad's range is global. For years, she has collected sounds from a multiplicity of sources. Through site-specific sound works and installations, she sends signals out into the world and draws connections backward in history and forwards in time. She is consistently interested in the invisible communications that occur in our radio spectrum and technologies from our recent past that enable communication over long distances, such as radio and telecommunications. The radio has been a preoccupation, both sonically, visually, and conceptually, in a series of Urstad's sculptural installations. In recent years, she has also collaborated with amateur radio operators who communicate via the ionosphere.

With the exhibition at Kunstnernes Hus, the artist encourages us, through a vertical journey through the acoustic layers of our sound universe, to reflect on technological development and the auditory traces and imprints we leave behind. Everyday sounds from the payment terminal in the store and speaker announcements at train stations to navigation assistants and robot vacuum cleaners are transformed through Urstad's processing into poetic connections across space and time.

For Urstad, sound is a personal and collective space closely linked to our experience of time, history and memory. The exhibition's title - Do You Hear That Whistling Sound? - anchors us in the early phase of radio communication. It is appropriated from the audio log of Apollo 11's moon mission in 1969, when astronauts were commenting on an unknown sound universe on the far side of the moon.

With a focus on the transience of technology, Urstad questions what happens when new communication technologies enter our lives and make ever-increasing quantum leaps. What remains in the technological ruins after us? Through her unique ability to visually and metaphorically process sound, the artist reminds us of sound's fundamental impact on life–resonances that we both create and are created by, yet do not fully control. Sound becomes part of our collective unconscious.

Maia Urstad Do You Hear That Whistling Sound 246

Installation views: Uli Holz

About the artist

Maia Urstad (b. 1954, Kristiansand) is considered a pioneer sound artist in Norway. Trained as a visual artist, she has been working with sound art since the early 1980s. Her works have been exhibited at venues such as Atelier Nord, Oslo Kunstforening, the XIV Biennial of Media Art in Santiago de Chile, Kunsthuset Kabuso, Bergen Kunsthall, Struer Tracks, Sonic Acts, and Borderline Festival. For years, Urstad has been advocating for the position of sound art within contemporary art and was instrumental in establishing Lydgalleriet in Bergen. In 2019, Urstad was awarded the Rune Brynestad Memorial Scholarship and in 2017, she was appointed City Sound Artist in Bonn. Urstad lives and works in Bergen.

Maia Urstad Syros sonud resiceny Photo Eva Matsigkou
Maia Urstad. Photo: Eva Matsigkou.

Supported by

The exhibition is supported by Norsk kulturråd, Kunstsentrene i Norge (KIN) - regionale prosjektmidler for visuell kunst, Billedkunstnernes vederlagsfond, Bergen kommune - profesjonelle kunst- og kulturtiltak - visuell kunst and Fond for lyd og bilde.

Kunstnernes Hus' summer exhibitions are generously supported by Sparebankstiftelsen DNB.

Maia Urstad Logo støttespillere til nettsiden

Summer Exhibitions 2024 See all