Workshop with Susan Philipsz

Over a week ago I attended a workshop by Susan Philipsz the Turner prize winning artist.

In some ways she is quite influential in my life because her work Lowlands was quite inspirational at a time when I disliked music. The bringing together of lament, history, the particularity of place resonated with me at a deep level. In some senses due to that work I’ve slowly wound my way towards doing an MA in Sound Art at the London College of Communication.

I don’t know why but for me such events are too often marred by technical glitches. I don’t understand why the hosts of such workshops don’t get these things sorted out. Anyhow Susan was admirable in the way she adjusted to it all and essentially she told us stories of her work. I say stories because I found the way she wove the narrative of what her work was about quite compelling. 

The best story was of her work in Castle,Kassel Germany. You can read about it here. In a nutshell the work was based on a piece which was performed by an orchestra 90% of whom died in the camps. The conductor survived and through memory reconstructed the piece and what Susan did was take just the Viola and Cello part and make a recording of it to play through speakers at the station where so many of the camp inmates passed through. To take just those parts was give attention to all the others who were missing. I find it powerful.

The workshop itself consisted of us walking around the Hayward Gallery and the southbank to see where possible sound installations could be placed and also what kind of work we produce in these spaces. Overall it was enrichening and inspiring.

Unfortunately I fell prey to my shyness and awkwardness and didn’t really talk to anybody. Other than that it was a great day!


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