Susan Philipsz



30 September – 28 November 00


Saturday, 30.09.2000, 5 - 9 pm
Friedrichstraße Station, underneath the S-Bahn bridge, connecting Friedrichstraße Station with the Weidendamm

The KW Institute for Contemporary Art have invited the Irish artist Susan Philipsz to execute a sound-performance for the first time in Berlin. On Saturday, September 30th, 2000, from 5 - 9 pm, Susan Philipsz will sing The Internationale in 10 minutes intervals underneath the S-Bahn bridge of Friedrichstraße Station.

Susan Philipsz uses sounds, melodies and texts of well known songs in her works, singing them without any further accompaniment. "My work deals with the spatial properties of sound and with the relationship between sound and architecture. I'm interested in the emotive and psychological properties of sound and how it can be used as a device to alter individual consciousness. I have used sound, and more recently song, as a medium in public spaces to interject through the ambient noises of the everyday. Using my own voice I attempt to trigger an awareness in the listener, to temporarily alter their perception of themselves in a particular place and time." (Susan Philipsz)

Susan Philipsz' aural interventions in various public spaces, whether sung live or recorded and played from a hidden, single trumpet speaker, recall the intimate experiences of community and familiarity in a strange and unsettling way. The songs are stripped down to the core and are sung simply and clearly. There are hints of imperfection, blunt shifts in pitch and scale, pauses, moments where the artist catches her breath. Philipsz' singing creates an awareness of the specific temporal aspects of the performance, of the duration of a song, its still moments, and of the length and the "empty" time after the song, before space and consciousness are filled again with the exigencies of the present. Whether directly or through allusion Philipsz' voice evokes personal memories of places and people and projects them into the present.

The Internationale, the former call to action of rebellious masses worldwide, has nowadays lost its original power and aggressiveness. Performed at Friedrichstraße Station, a location which was until recently a notorious and heavily guarded border crossing between East and West Germany, Philipsz' melancholic version of the song echoes the contrast between the former and present significance of the site.

Susan Philipsz performance in Berlin is based on her sound-installation at the Manifesta 3, Ljubljana, 2000. After the one day performance a video recording of the intervention will be shown at the Kunst-Werle Berlin until November 12th, 2000.

Susan Philipsz was born 1965 in Glasgow. Her performances and sound-installations have been included in shows at the Consortium Gallery, Amsterdam, the Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast, the New Works Gallery, Chicago, and in the Melbourne International Biennial. Susan Philipsz lives and works in Dublin.