Susan Philipsz: Here Comes Everybody: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is very pleased to present Here Comes Everybody, Susan Philipsz’s first exhibition with the gallery and the artist’s first solo presentation in New York. Interested in both the psychological and sculptural potential of sound, Philipsz uses recordings, predominantly of her own voice, to create immersive environments that heighten the visitor’s engagement with their surroundings while inspiring thoughtful introspection. Dealing with universal themes such as presence and absence, nostalgia and hope, love, longing, and the cyclical nature of time, the songs Philipsz chooses respond to the space in which they are installed, and range from Irish folk tunes to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust. Philipsz’s renditions are arrestingly earnest, and while each is idiosyncratic they are all immediately recognizable, triggering personal reactions while also connecting the individual to the collective popular repertory. This dynamic between interiority and exteriority, the personal and the universal, is particularly important for the artist—indeed, it is the point of departure for Here Comes Everybody which Philipsz describes as follows:
“When I first came across the line ‘here comes everybody’ in James Joyce’s novel, Finnegan’s Wake, it made me think of both a great ocean of people with a common aim that generated feelings of togetherness, solidarity and strength and also the opposite, as if one was waiting in trepidation for ‘everybody’ to descend upon you. I can identify with both these feelings. My exhibition Here Comes Everybody is about the need to retreat from, and the need to participate in the world.”
Created with the unique architecture of the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in mind, Here Comes Everybody utilizes both gallery spaces, one bright and open, with lots of natural light, and the other more intimate and dark. For the darker more secluded space Phillipsz recorded herself singing ‘Trees and Flowers’ (by the Glasgow punk duo Strawberry Switchblade)—a song about a fear of the outdoors and wanting to be alone. Phillipsz sings a cappella in a way that suggests solitude—as if she is singing to herself.