Scottish artist Susan Philipsz opens exhibition at Konrad Fischer Galerie

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Scottish artist Susan Philipsz opens exhibition at Konrad Fischer Galerie
Susan Philipsz, Sokol Terezín. Courtesy the artist and Konrad Fischer Galerie Photos by Achim Kukulies.

DÜSSELDORF.- With her new work Sokol Terezín, the Scottish artist Susan Philipsz confronts the viewer with a sound and video installation that refers to her work Study for Strings, already presented at dOCUMENTA (13) in 2012.

The sound installation, consisting of recordings of two isolated instruments - a cello and a viola - is accompanied by two video projections showing subtle shots of empty rooms of the former Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt.

The work focuses on the sound of the two string instruments, which originally were part of the composition Study for String Orchestra by Czech-Jewish composer Pavel Haas (1899-1944). The piece was performed for the 1944 Nazi propaganda film Theresienstadt: Ein Dokumentarfilm aus dem jüdischen Siedlungsgebiet. The film does not show the German concentration camp in its reality as a collection and transit camp to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, but stages it as a "Jewish model settlement", which in turn was shown to representatives of the International Red Cross. Haas was forced to compose the piece in Theresienstadt and perform it with the camp orchestra. Together with most of the camp inmates, he was deported to Auschwitz after the filming and murdered there.

In her sound installation, Susan Philipsz uses a reconstruction of Pavel Haas' orchestral work, which has only been partially handed down. In her film installation, two cameras move through the building where the concert was originally staged. The building is currently being used as a sports centre, Sokol Terezín, with some spaces recently converted into apartments for Ukrainian families. The cameras descend through both recreational and residential spaces until both cameras meet in the darkened cellar. At the same time, the sounds of the isolated instruments - cello and viola - fill the space. "My work deals with the spatial properties of sound and with the relationships between sound and architecture. I am particularly interested in the emotive and psychological properties of sound and how it can be used as a device to alter individual consciousness”.

Throughout her artistic career, Susan Philipsz has used the possibilities of sound to trigger an awareness in the listener, to temporarily alter their perception of themselves in a particular place and time. By locating the composition in its original context - the rooms of the former concentration camp - she creates an atmosphere that is at once compressed and exceedingly uncomfortable.

Parallel to the sound and video installation Sokol Terezín, Konrad Fischer Galerie is showing photographs and works on paper by the artist. These include works from her early sound installation Two Part Harmony from 1995, for which Susan Philipsz was inspired by the works of the American sound artist Max Neuhaus. These works will be exhibited together with drawings and editions by Neuhaus from 1979 to 2007, including his works for Documenta IX and the Stommeln Synagogue.

Susan Philipsz, born in Glasgow in 1965, currently lives and works in Berlin. In 2010 she received the Turner Prize and was awarded the OBE for her services to British art in 2014. Since the mid-1990s, her sound installations have been presented in many prestigious institutions and public venues around the world, including solo exhibitions at the Brandts Art Museum (2023) in Odense, ARoS (2023) in Aarhus, Kunstmuseum Bonn (2021), Castello di Rivoli (2019), Turin, Tate Modern (2018) and Tate Britain (2015) in London, Bonniers Konsthall (2017) in Stockholm, Kunsthaus Bregenz (2016) in Austria, Hamburger Bahnhof (2014) in Berlin, Carnegie Museum of Art (2013) in Pittsburgh, K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen (2013) in Düsseldorf, Museum of Contemporary Art (2011) in Chicago, Aspen Art Museum (2011) in Colorado, Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State (2010) in Columbus, Museum Ludwig (2009) in Cologne, and Institute of Contemporary Art (2008) in London. Installations by Philipsz were on view at Skulptur Projekte Münster in 2007, the 55th Carnegie International in 2008 and the National Gallery of Victoria Triennial in 2020.

Konrad Fischer Galerie
Susan Philipsz: Sokol Terezín with works by Max Neuhaus
September 1st, 2023 - November 4th, 2023

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