For the opening of our new showroom in Copenhagen, director and artist Nina Holmgren produced a site-specific sound art. Her piece titled “Fresh fools in a pool of pink salty tears” resembles an abstract story that bathes the plush pink Gallery in an intermezzo of narrative sound bites and wonderfully aquatic tunes.
In addition, Nina created a series of curated playlists for the showroom that plays during the store's opening hours. The idea behind these playlists is like having old-school mixtapes with carefully selected music personally dedicated to Normann Copenhagen.
We caught up with Nina for a talk about music and the sound she created for Normann Copenhagen.
Nina soaking up the sun in Italy.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I am a bit of a mix of different worlds. At first, I started to do fine arts, but after a while I became interested in more narrative ways of working. I got into the Danish National Broadcasting Company. They have an education called “the talent team”, which is kind a mix of documentary and journalism studies. It’s a rare chance for a person from the street to get into this program and create. You know, like an unknown tennis player given a wildcard to a big tournament. There were about one thousand applicants, but only four of us got into the program.
I used most of the years there to experiment with different ways of storytelling. I think that’s also why I have done so many different things on various platforms, because I am never afraid to cross worlds or art forms in a piece, whether it's documenting in film, design, photography or sound.
Pink steps leading into the Gallery in our new showroom.
How did you get into working with sound art?
I have worked a lot with the sound aspect in general. I have done a lot of radio documentaries and produced soundscapes. To tell stories in sound has always appealed to me. Sound can create intimacy. It can force you to create and elevate your imagination. You have to make images of what you hear. It is like reading a good book. You can get absorbed into it.
How did you create the music playlists dedicated Normann Copenhagen?
Actually to me, or the way I approached it, is like in the old days where you created mixtapes for friends or burned CD's to create a mix for someone you really liked, and you wanted to connect through the music you were listening to. Then you burnt a CD-mix and wrote on the front of it with a pen – stuff like: “I think about kissing you all the time.” Or it could be a really rare collection of tunes that you were digging that you wanted your friend to connect to as well.
In a way, I had the same personal approach by doing this for Normann. I wanted to try to connect to their visions around the curated aspect of their new showroom. The aspects that Normann wanted to highlight the music they will play in the store with these curated list, I just thought were really cool.
All in pink: Cap lamps in the Gallery.
Your piece for Normann Copenhagen is titled “Fresh fools in a pool of pink salty tears.” Can you tell us more about it?
When I first got the chance to see the pink space it reminded me of being in an empty pink pool. I wanted to fill the space with abstract sounds of water, to fill it up in a sense with recorded sounds of the ocean from different places. It was interesting for me to do a site-specific sound piece, because it forced me to make a somewhat more abstract soundscape than just a plain narrative, which I had done a lot in the past. It has been something I wanted to do for a while. The piece is a kind of sound-narrative mashup in a sense.
You will hear recorded and manipulated sounds from different seas and you will also hear some more personal stuff, like fragments of a story I recorded with my granddad who was 99 years old. He was telling about the importance of drinking water to be able to maintain life balance. And he talked about his struggle with remembering that because he is so old, so he often forgets stuff. Sometimes it is where he is, what he just said, but also it is something as basic as drinking water to maintain his balance.
Nina and her grandfather, who is an inspiration to her work.
And you hear a fragment of a story from European women chasing love and romance from young Kenyan men looking like young Adonises by the sea of the coast of Kenya. It is a fragment of a story about romance tourism and the story about trying to find love by the sea in this really surreal setting where money, romance and diverse emotions are complex, and very merged into each other. The sound bite is something my friend and documentary photographer Sofie Amalie Klougart recorded on her phone while doing a photo-story in Kenya on romance-tourism.
Photographer Sofie Amalie Klougart documenting romance-tourism in Kenya.
How can you use sound to describe a brand or to set the scene for a brand experience?
Sound is a powerful tool, and for Normann Copenhagen it shows that the company is brave enough to include that as an element in their storytelling. It adds an element of curiosity that invites visitors to explore the showroom space as an art installation, instead of just getting it all served at the front door. To visit the showroom becomes an artistic experience, and sounds adds an extra element to that.
From where do you draw inspiration for your artistic pieces?
It comes from my surroundings and experiences, my imagination and my urge to explore new boundaries. Next up, I am doing this short-film for friends of mine, who have a streetwear brand called “Le Fix”. It will be a film that actually also will be a tribute to my granddad, and to old age in a sense where wrinkles are the power.
Form 69, Era lounge chair and Box table in the pink Gallery of our showroom.
How is it living in Copenhagen?
Copenhagen is a magical place. In the summertime the city is so vibrant. One of my favorite places is a cemetery called Assistent Cemetery in a part of Copenhagen called Nørrebro. Here you can find tourists chasing Søren Kirkegaard’s grave. At the same time you can explore the most magical garden with ancient statues, and enjoy a picnic on the green areas. It's a very special place where you can find both peace and sense the vibrant life of the city.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
One of my favorite things has always been to go to the cinema and watch movies! I also really like playing street basket with a team of friends on a public court just nearby where I live. Sometimes we bring a bottle of wine in the evening and we just hang out together at the spot. And then once in awhile we jump to the court and shoot from the 3-point line.
Three words that describe your music taste?
Soulful, seductive and surprising I guess.
Best song to wake up to?
Right now it’s Donnie & Joe Emerson’s track ‘Baby puts a smile on my face’.
Best music to cook to?
I never really listen to music while I am cooking. I would much rather like to listen to great podcasts played loud on the speakers. 'This American life', and 'The Heart' is something I listen to a lot.
Best music to see live?
I would love to hear Burial live one day - if that ever happens I will definitely go!
Best music for Sunday evening relaxation?
Arthur Russell – 'That’s us', and 'You and me both'. Just put those on repeat, or listen to the whole album 'Calling Out of Context' – it’s brilliant. And watch the documentary about him while you're at it. He was such an interesting artist.
Thank you for a great chat, Nina!
If you haven’t done so yet, come visit us in Copenhagen and check out Nina Holmgren’s sound art in our pink pool in the depths of our showroom. You can find more information about our opening hours and the exact address here.