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December 13, 2010

"Sound artist" Susan Philpsz wins Turner Prize

The National (UK):

She admits that her voice wouldn't win any prizes in the music industry. But something about the raw cadence of the vocals as Susan Philipsz sings her lamentations of love and loss strike a deep chord with audiences.

Her unaccompanied, unadorned recordings of traditional Scottish ballads have now won her Britain's most prestigious accolade in, not the world of classical music or folk, but the visual arts.

The piece itself, entitled Lowlands, consists of overlaid recordings of three versions of an old Celtic sailor's ballad mourning the ghost of a lover drowned at sea.

Critics have remarked on how even the flaws in her voice give it depth, endowing it with a haunting quality so that, while it may be imperfect musically, it takes on heightened meaning, occupying the awkward gap between the public and private spheres.

"She uses her own voice unaccompanied, a cappella. There's no cleaning up of the recording," says Little. "You feel it's someone singing for themselves, alone. There's a tension between the public and the private aspects, combining lyrics and vocals with very emotive effect."

Her "sculptures in sound" have become the first instance of a sound art exhibit winning the Tate gallery's annual Turner Prize, and are likely to reinvigorate interest in the field.

Philipsz's sound installations have been shown at the Guggenheim in New York, the São Paulo Bienniale, and the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon. Her latest project, Surround Me, sets her Elizabethan madrigals ringing out in the yards and alleys of London's old financial district. Read more.

Aspen Daily News (CO):

When Aspen Skiing Co., representatives and directors at the Aspen Art Museum joined forces earlier this year to ask Scottish artist Susan Philipsz to install some of her work on Snowmass Ski Area, little did they know that Philipsz would be receiving one of the most prestigious awards the international art community has to offer just days before her work was to open in Snowmass.

Philipsz’ sound installation art work opened Friday on the Trestle Bridge, on a run that connects the Big Burn and Sheer Bliss lifts on Snowmass.

The piece features Philipsz singing the Fleet Foxes’ song “White Winter Hymnal” unaccompanied. The combination of morbid lyrics and Philipsz’ melodious voice transform the tune into an eerily fantastical meditation.

“I think it might work on different levels,” said Philipsz. “An unaccompanied voice has a lot of associations with it, and I thought the lyrics would really resonate in Snowmass. The song begins with the repetition of ‘I was following the pack,’ over and over again. I think the loops will resonate with the skier. For some it will only register for a moment in a subliminal way, while others might stop and contemplate it.” Read more.

Posted by acapnews at December 13, 2010 10:51 PM

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