Over the past two decades, Susan Philipsz has explored the psychological and sculptural potential of sound. Using recordings, predominantly of her own voice, the artist creates immersive environments of architecture and song that heighten the visitor’s engagement with their surroundings while inspiring thoughtful introspection. The music Philipsz selects – which has ranged from sixteenth century ballads and Irish folk tunes to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust – responds specifically to the space in which the work is installed. While each piece is unique, the storylines and references are often recognizable, exploring familiar themes of loss, longing, hope, and return. These universal narratives trigger personal reactions while also temporarily bridging the gaps between the individual and the collective, as well as interior and exterior spaces.
Born in 1965 in Glasgow, Philipsz currently lives and works in Berlin. She received a BFA in Sculpture from Duncan of Jordanstone College in Dundee, Scotland in 1993, and an MFA from the University of Ulster in Belfast in 1994. In 2000, she completed a fellowship at MoMA PS1 in New York. She received the Turner Prize in 2010 and was awarded an OBE in 2014 for services to British art.
Since the mid-1990s, Philipsz’s sound installations have been exhibited at many prestigious institutions and public venues around the world. In 2012, she debuted a major work at dOCUMENTA 13 entitled Study for Strings, which was later featured at the Museum of Modern Art as part of the group exhibition, Soundings: A Contemporary Score (2013). Philipsz has also presented solo exhibitions at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin (2014), the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh (2013), K21 Standehaus Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen in Dusseldorf, Germany (2013), Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (2011), Aspen Art Museum in Colorado (2010-11), Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State in Columbus, OH (2009-10), Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany (2009), Institute of Contemporary Art in London (2008), among others. She also conceived installations for the 2007 Skulptur Projekte in Muenster, Germany and for the Carnegie Museum of Art’s 55th Carnegie International in 2008.
The artist’s major commissions include Lowlands, her Turner Prize-winning work for Glasgow International in 2010, SURROUND ME: A Song Cycle for the City of London, a public project organized by Artangel in London (2010-11), Day is Done, a permanent installation organized by the Trust for Governors Island that opened on Governors Island in New York in the spring of 2014 and New Canaan, a project for the Grace Farms Foundation that opened in 2015.
Philipsz’s work can be found in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, The Tate in London, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Baltimore Museum of Art, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany, Carnegie Museum of Art, Castello di Rivoli in Italy, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.