Susan Philipsz (born 1965 in Glasgow) is a Scottish artist who won the 2010 Turner Prize. Originally a sculptor, she is best known for her sound installations. She records herself singing a cappella versions of songs which are replayed over a public address system in the gallery or other installation. She currently lives and works in Berlin.
Early life and education
Philipsz is one of six sisters. Philipsz's father is Burmese. His family's life was "pulled apart by the war," and he came to the UK in his twenties. In her youth, Philipsz sang with her sisters in a Catholic church choir in Maryhill. She studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee from 1989–1993 and then at the University of Ulster in Belfast in 1993-4. She was a Director of Catalyst Arts in Belfast for several years.
Her 1999 work "The Internationale" consists of a solo a cappella version of the revolutionary song. She sings the Irish ballad "The Lass of Aughrim" in her 2000 work "The Dead". In her 2003 work, "Sunset Song", she sings the male and female parts of the 19th-century American folk ballad Banks of the Ohio, with the volume level changing according to light levels. She used a vibraphone for her 2009 piece, "You are not alone", commissioned for the Radcliffe Observatory in Oxford.
In 2010, she was commissioned by the Glasgow International Festival. Her piece, "Lowlands", was three versions of what she called a 16th-century Scottish lament, Lowlands Away. It was played under three bridges over the River Clyde in Glasgow - George V Bridge, the Caledonian railway bridge, and Glasgow Bridge. "Lowlands", was subsequently exhibited at Tate Britain, winning her the 2010 Turner Prize.
Developed for documenta, Study for Strings (2012) riffs on an orchestral piece composed in 1943 at the Theresienstadt concentration camp for musicians there. For her recording, Philipsz redacted the parts for all the instruments except one cello and one viola, leaving plangent silences between those two players’ scattered notes.
Philipsz has exhibited at the Melbourne International Biennial 1999, Manifesta 3 in Ljubljana in 2000, the Tirana Biennial in 2001, at Triennal of British Art at Tate Britain in 2003, the 16th Biennale of Sydney in 2008, and at the 55th Carnegie International in 2009. She gave a solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 2008. She was commissioned to create a work for the rotunda at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2010.
In 2011, Philipsz was commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago to create a sound installation. This piece titled We Shall Be All draws from Chicago’s labor history, specifically the 1886 Haymarket Affair and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), also known as the Wobblies. Also part of her 2011 exhibition at the MCA was a presentation of her work The Internationlale in the building’s atrium. In addition to her MCA exhibition, she presented her 2002 work Pledge at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum located on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus.
Philipsz is represented by Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York, Ellen de Bruijne Projects in Amsterdam and Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie, Berlin.
Philipsz was nominated for the Beck's Futures award in 2003 and won the 2010 Turner Prize for a sound installation that features her singing three versions of a Scottish lament. She received the £25,000 prize at a ceremony at Tate Britain that was disrupted by protests over the British Government's educational cuts.
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- Moira Jeffrey, "Scottish Turner nominee Susan Philipsz finds the sound of silence the ideal canvas for her creations," Living Scotsman, September 28. 2010, accessed, December 7, 2010
- Higgins, Charlotte (2010-04-04). "Susan Philipsz: Lament for a drowned love". The Guardian. Guardian. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
- Adams, Stephen (2010-05-04). "Supermarket singer on Turner Prize shortlist". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
- "Turner Prize shortlist announced". BBC News. 2010-05-04. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
- "Susan Philipsz". Biennale of Sydney 2008. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
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- "Susan Philipsz : The Shortest Shadow". Wexner Center for the Arts. 2009. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
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- "Sunset Song, 2003, a sound installation by Susan Phillipsz". Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. 2007. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
- Sherwin, Skye (2009-10-30). "Exhibitionist: The best art shows to see this week : You Are Not Alone, Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
- The song was actually a sailors' shanty, earliest dated to the 1860s, as in: Dallas, E. S., ed. 1868. "On Shanties." Once a Week vol. 31 (1 Aug. 1868).
- "Bridge song artist Susan Philipsz on Turner prize list". BBC News. 2010-05-04. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
- Cain, Matthew (2010-12-06). "Turner Prize: Susan Philipsz wins prestigious art award". Channel4 News. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
- Blake Gopnik (August 1, 2013), Did You Hear That? It Was Art New York Times.
- Institute of Contemporary Arts, Out of Bounds: Susan Philipsz, September 2008
- "Susan Philipsz". Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
- "Guggenheim exhibition of contemporary photographic imagery explores themes of memory, trauma, and return to the past" (Press release). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 2010-03-23. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
- "Susan Philipsz: We Shall Be All". Press Release. Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
- Viera, Lauren (2011-02-24). "Sounding off on standing up". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
- "Pledge". Jane Addams Hull House Museum. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
- "Carpet artist up for Beck's prize". BBC News. 2003-12-16. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
- "Supermarket singer on Turner Prize shortlist". BBC. 2010-12-07. Retrieved 2010-12-07.
- Tate: Turner Prize 2010: Susan Philipsz The artist talks about her work Lowlands that won her the 2010 Turner Prize. 22 October 2010