Invitation to a press conference Susan Philipsz. Separated Strings

22 January 2018

Susan Philipsz. Separated Strings

Susan Philipsz (b. 1965 in Glasgow) is one of the most well-known international artists of today. Trained as a sculptor, she probes the boundaries between sculpture and sound, between materiality and immateriality. Central in her work is an artistic exploration of subjects such as transience and memory as well as the devastating experience of war in the twentieth century.

  • DATES 17/02/2018—06/05/2018

Susan Philipsz. Separated Strings

The Albertinum of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) has invited Philipsz, winner of the Turner Prize, to present, in addition to photographic works, a new version of one of her principal works, Study for Strings (2012) in Dresden for the first time, at the Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau.

In Study for Strings, which was created for Documenta 2012, Susan Philipsz explores the subject of loss, separation and deportation. Her score is based on the work Studie für Streichorchester (Study for String Orchestra) by the Jewish composer Pavel Haas (1899–1944), who was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1941 and murdered at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 1944. Study for String Orchestra was arranged by Haas himself at the concentration camp in 1943 and, in the summer of 1944, was performed by a string orchestra for the filming of the Nazi propaganda film Theresienstadt. Ein Dokumentarfilm aus dem jüdischen Siedlungsgebiet (A Documentary from the Jewish Settlement Area, 1944). Although the original score did not survive in its entirety, the conductor of the Terezin String Orchestra Karel Ançerl (1908–1973) reassembled the score from fragments after the war. Susan Philipsz was able to identify the cello and viola parts, and had them re-recorded by musicians. As individual notes, these parts were then broadcast on loudspeakers at Kassel’s train station, a place of deportation during the Second World War. Inspired by Dresden's proximity to Terezin, Philipsz has revisited Study for Strings. For the Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, Philipsz has recorded the violin parts from Haas’s composition.

In the exhibition, Susan Philipsz will also be presenting a number of photographic series which vividly illustrate the leitmotiv of absence and presence, movement and separation.

Susan Philipsz is known for her site-specific works and her keen awareness of the spaces in which she exhibits. For decades after its partial destruction in 1945, the Lipsiusbau remained unused as an exhibition space. Its reconstruction was completed in 2005, with evidence of the destruction left visible, contrasting strikingly with the renovated parts of the building: Rather than hiding historical layers, they have been made an openly legible part of each room. Resulting from this are architectural fissures at which past and present come into contact. With the completion of the Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, Dresden regained an impressive venue for art exhibitions, whose mandate is the exploration of contemporary artistic work. The expansive sound installation by Susan Philipsz will play on twelve loudspeakers positioned throughout the main hall. In this way, the artist is reconnecting to the difficult history of the Lipsiusbau and creating a bridge to the present. In an interplay of sound and space, the composition finds expression in a new context.

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