Maia Urstad: Nattefærd

Location The couchette at the Railway Museum, Godthåbsvej 10, 7600 Struer

Sounds from a massive moving steel machine, creaking and rattling, blurred sounds and fragmented voices in the passenger compartments mixed with intermittent garbled train announcements from another country, interlaced with layered real-time messages captured from within the night train from Struer to Copenhagen. From the departure from Struer late in the evening at 11:17pm till the arrival in Copenhagen the next morning at. 5:44am. 

Hypnagogia is the stage between being awake and asleep. In this state letters on a page dance and meanings twist in new directions. This state of being has inspired Maia Urstad – spending “slow time” on the rails from one distant place to another, gives an opportunity to conjure this altered state – in this sound installation from a DSB (Danish State Railways) couchette, which once drove through the night back and forth from Struer to Copenhagen in the period between 1987 and 1997.

Distance is an imaginary quantity in the couchette, as well as in slumber, dreams move closer to a surface and the notion of places far away gets under the skin, raising up into the compartment of memories and through to the palpable world of the senses. The next station is a stop someplace on the globe. Copenhagen, Kumamoto, Krakow… The platform plays as a starting point, and the conductor’s blown whistle signals as an opportunity, a kick off. Slow time, three days at a window, moving scenery, streams of thought… Passport, Visa, language, escape, future, hope. Welcome aboard!

About the artist 

Maia Urstad (1954) is a norwegian artist working at the intersection of audio and visual art, primarily through sound art installations and performances. In her latest sound installations you will find radios functioning as both sound source and sculptural objects – a comment on the fleeting technologies of our time. For instance, her work Meanwhile, in Shanghai…, has countless of radios hanging from the ceiling, mixing live-transmissions from the entire world with pre-recorded sound footage referring to concrete places and times: ”23 Uhr in Deutschland, Cinco de la Manana en Madrid, Saint Johns 7:30 while 7:00 in Nova Scotia”.

Urstad is trained at Kunsthøgskolen in Bergen and has a background in rock music – for instance, as part of the ska/new wave group Program 81. Urstad has exhibited and performed at venues such as Den Frie Udstillingsbygning (“the Free Exhibition) in Copenhagen, Bergen Art Museum in Norway, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Mamam do Patio Recife Brasil, Prefix ICA Toronto and Malmö Konsthall. She is a part of the international sound art collective Freq_out which is curated by CM von Hausswolff as well as cofounder of Lydgalleriet in Bergen.

Maia Urstad: “Nattefærd/Night Journey”, Struer Tracks 2019. Photo: Mikkel Høgh Kaldal

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