Above: Lowlands, 2008. View of installation in Glasgow. Above right: Lowlands,
2008. View of installation at the Isabella
Bortolozzi Galerie, Berlin.
BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN
Scottish artist Susan Philipsz has worked with sound for years,
but her background is in sculpture. For her, the two fields have
been intertwined from the beginning. When studying sculpture
at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee, in the early 1990s, she contemplated the
physicality of producing sound, how it could offer a sculptural
experience and serve as a means to define space. During her
graduate studies in Belfast, this interest intensified. Since
then, architectural concerns, as well as the emotive and psychological effects of sound and song, have become integral parts
of her practice.
Over the past two decades, Philipsz has worked extensively
with a wide range of public spaces. Her sound installations
highlight the unique characteristics of each setting, addressing
historic, social, and cultural contexts. They have transformed
bridges, a train station in Kassel (for Documenta 13), and no
less than 600 kilometers of coastline around the Øresund and
the North Sea, among other locations. She attempts to capture the mood embedded in a place, enabling us to sense what
we might otherwise overlook. In this, Philipsz’s works help us
to traverse significant distances, bridging present and past by
using sound as an invisible link between place and memory.