artist / participant
Bonniers Konsthall proudly presents the solo exhibition Lost in Space with The Global Fine Art Award-winner Susan Philipsz, Bonniers Konsthall’s guest artist 2017. Susan Philipsz embarked on the journey to create a new installation for the Konsthall by seeking inspiration from a key Swedish literary and opera work—the space opera Aniara. This installation is also Philipsz’s most extensive film production to date, and was produced on site in Sweden. The main work, A Single Voice, is a new work by the artist inspired by composer Karl-Birger Blomdahl’s Aniara, a space opera based on Harry Martinson's space epic of the same name. In the piece Philipsz has set the first violin apart and recorded it tone by tone. Each tone has in turn been given its own speaker and by distributing them throughout Bonniers Konsthall Philipsz creates what can be called an architectural sound. In addition, this is the first time Susan Philipsz has created a major film production. Here, a camera moves slowly around a lone violinist playing the "C" tone, the same as in the opening sequence of Aniara, which in the opera was Morse code and could be deciphered as—"Aniara SOS Aniara."
Scottish artist Susan Philipsz uses sound as her medium, her voice or a variety of instruments as tools. Creating sound structures in the exhibition space, Philipsz unveils a song, production or composer’s forgotten story, as well as presenting the physical room or space in which the piece is exhibited in a new light. Philipsz’s sound installations often find their way outside of the art institution. Railway stations, churchyards, bridges and bodies of water reappear time and again, with solemness, longing and hope playing a central role in her world-renowned, influential art.
In the site-specific work A Single Voice, Susan Philipsz employs a method she has used in several of her previous installations, where she isolates the string sections of a composition and then records them separately, note by note. Silence and breaks in the recording replace the sounds, which are otherwise played by the other instruments. The resounding tones become a sort of Morse code travelling through space, issued from a distressed astronaut.
A series of both older and newer works, those which delve into the central work’s interpretation of humanity’s attempt to communicate across vast distances and the dangerous lure of infinite space, are also presented at the exhibition. Radio Star comprises the sound of rotating pulsar neutron stars, recorded by a radio telescope. In Ziggy Stardust, Susan Philipsz sings the songs from David Bowie’s legendary album to herself. Her solitary voice magnifies the apocalyptic tale the album is telling—we are all alone as we move through an infinite space. In the work Timeslip she investigates the sci-fi dream, about having an own personal timeslip, she had herself as a 4 year old.
The Konsthall’s library will contain a variety of material on the exhibition’s background and the key figures we meet in Susan Philipsz’s work. Additional in-depth material relating to Harry Martinson, Karl-Birger Blomdahl and Susan Philipsz will be presented here in the form of books, newspaper clippings, pictures, film and sound.
Bonniers Konsthall and Art and Theory Publishing will release a vinyl box set, featuring a selection of text and images, to accompany the exhibition. A programme of musical performances and seminars will also run alongside the exhibition.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1965, Philipsz currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany. She has exhibited extensively, including at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Tate Modern, Hamburger Bahnhof and MoMA New York. Her exhibition at Bonniers Konsthall will run from February 22 to May 7, 2017. Sara Arrhenius is in the role of curator.