Artist research: Susan Philipsz

Updated on 17 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

20 October 2016. And another Turner prize relation, this time Susan Philipsz (*1965, UK), winner in 2010, when Angela de la Cruz and Dexter Dalwood were both listed as nominees (Searle (2010), Tate (2010)). Philpsz used to be a sculptor and has been working with sound installations for decades now. In a Tate video interview (Tate, 2010) Philipsz explains how she is interested in the ways distant sound defines space and this effect is explored in the award-winning, hair-raising experiment using the undersides of the bridges of Glasgow and a quiet medieval Scottish song about a drowned sailer coming back to say farewell to his love. What a brilliant, deceivingly simple, moving idea! Another sound installation, “War Damaged Instruments” on show in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna this year (Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, 2015), is comparable in approach. In Munich Philipsz discovered a century old horns, broken during use in war, and arranged for them to be played again after a felt eternity in the empty rooms of the museum. Via the breath of a horn player, for example, she invokes the broken impression of a last post, taking the listeners into the collective memory of the battlefield. The distorted sounds coming from these damaged instruments remind us with great intensity of the sufferings inflicted by war.
As in my previous two posts on Dexter Dalwood (Lacher-Bryk, 2016a) and Angela de la Cruz (Lacher-Bryk, 2016b) I was greatly impressed at how these three artists, but especially Susan Philipsz, reduce the “noise” in their work to finally come up with something so pure that it goes straight to the heart. This reduction allows the visitor a large degree of freedom to fill the “empty space or time” with their personal response to the experience and thus complete the work of art in their unique ways. This is of course an intriguing way to connect with people and makes me think about the involved mechanisms. The work of reducing the amount of information is not a matter of leaving a hole to fill, but to provide just enough detail to allow people to get in touch.

I have just realized that in her research suggestions my tutor is taking me on a journey into the third and fourth dimensions defining our world and thus art. It makes my head spin with possibilities to discover my own way to put into reality the crowd of visions I have on my mind. “Looking out”, the subject of Part 4 of this course, has got an alltogether different meaning for me now.


Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien (2015) Susan Philipsz – War Damaged Musical Instruments (Pair) [online]. Kunsthistorisxches Museum, Wien. Available at: [Accessed 20 October 2016]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016a) Artist Research: Dexter Dalwood [blog] [online]. Andrea Lacher-Bryk, Hallein, 19 October. Available at: [Accessed 20 October 2016]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016b) Artist Researc: Angela de la Cruz and an Excursion to the Turner Prize [blog] [online]. Andrea Lacher-Bryk, Hallein, 19 October. Available at: [Accessed 20 October 2016]

Searle, A. (2010) Turner Prize Winner Susan Philipsz [online]. The Guardian, London, 6 December. Available at: [Accessed 20 October 2016]

Tate (2010) Turner Prize 2010 artists: Susan Philipsz [online]. Tate, London. Available at: [Accessed 20 October 2016]