susan philipsz – turner prize winner 2010

(repost from Oct 6 2010)
Prediction of course, but a strong contender. Yaaayyy! Congratuations to Susan Philipsz! If you’re not aware of her work have a look at the excellent A Song Cycle for the City of London

Berlin-based glaswegian Susan Philipsz’ work is about the memory of place evoked through soundscape – using her own voice, or maybe sound samples via vibraphone, she brings a fragmentary drift of the past into now. She’s used a range of cover sources for the voice – from traditional scottish and irish laments to strawberry switchblade, george a. romero and opera. The works are also grounded in literary and cultural allusions in context with each location. The methods of voicing are low key, allowing imagination to work with the effect.

The interesting part for me is the way soundscapes can alter perceptions of place, both city and hinterland, in ways unexpected from prosaic location – they become invocations, and are dangerous – a singing-up the dead (there’s the romero connection, then). They also bring these narratives embedded in place into the open, however.

Comparisons will be drawn with sound artist Janet Cardiff, of course. I think that shows this is still an emerging practice; for site-specific work, intimate broadcast soundscape in cityspace is still new. Everybody in scotland’s central belt will be familiar though with the bigger scale here, from respected public arts duo Dalziel + Scullion – the horn perhaps best categorised now as a brave failure.

So 2010 has turned out to be a successful one for work with strong connections to psychogeography in the UK, with May Miles Thomas winning a BAFTA, Patrick Keiller’s much-anticipated new film and now Susan Philipsz winning the Turner prize.

image below from artangel