The House That Whispers

2021 // A three channel video installation // 15:30 min loop

A multichannel soundscape about the reverberations of the colonization of the Danish West Indies, today the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The film stages interactions between the past, present and what seem to be echoes of history, manifested in law, architecture, and people.

The video installation was filmed in three locations around Copenhagen.

Installation view at The Royal Casting Collection, SMK, Copenhagen part of kulturnatten 2021

The West Indies Warehouse

The West Indies Warehouse, located on the waterfront in Copenhagen, was built by the Danish West India Company, a chartered company responsible for the Triangular trade.

This film started as a sound recording, made in 2019, of the West Indies Warehouse building singing. The phenomenon of the building singing happens in special weather conditions where wind enters the building, causing it to resonate and become its own instrument playing in several flute-like tonalities. The field recording was made in The Royal Cast Collection which the warehouse houses today. 

The Odd Fellow Palace

The Odd Fellow Palace was bought in 1762 by Heinrich von Schimmelmann and at the time got the name Schimmelmann Mansion. In the 18th century, the Schimmelmann family had become Denmark’s richest family due to sugar imports from the Danish West Indies.

Sitting by a piano at The Odd Fellow Palace, pianist Ben Besiakov improvises in direct response to the recording of the sound sung by the West India Warehouse building. Ben Besiakov’s grandfather was Victor Cornelin. Victor Cornelin was brought from the Danish West Indies to Copenhagen to be exhibited at the 1905 human exhibition in Tivoli.

The Royal Vajsenhus

In 1905 The Royal Vajsenhus was an orphanage and after the human exhibition in Tivoli Victor Cornelin was sent to school in this very building. Today The Royal Vajsenhus is a primary school.

In the film a girl reads aloud from a contemporary school book for high school history classes. From the book, she reads a selection of texts. One of which is the 1733 slave regulations of Philip Gardelin that were put in force throughout the Danish West Indies, while another is the story of Victor Cornelin. 

The three channels mixed into one TRAILER 

Julie Nymann

Ben Besiakov

Luka Ildrup

Jonas Fogh

Ellinor Juhler

Anna Wistreich
Julie Nymann

sound designer
Jonathan Hvalsøe Schou

Eliott Becheau
thank you
The Royal Cast Collection, The Odd Fellow Palace, The Royal Vajsenhus

thank you
Henrik Holm, Jakob Kolding, Luca Frei, Stephen William McEvoy, Katrine Dirckinck-Holmfeld, Kasper Wolf Stouenborg, Kristine Bech, Nikolaj Nielsen Phillipsen, Mathias Bruun, Anne Mette Finderup, Naja Berg Hougaard

©  2011- 2022  Julie Nymann