Seven Tears (2017) Susan Philipsz

Aad Hoogendoorn
About the artwork

The work is done through seven speakers scattered under the Erasmus bridge on Willemsplein Seven Tears to be heard: a work of art that the Scottish artist Susan Philipsz based on the composition Pavane Lacrimae by the Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562 – 1621). Sweelinck in turn based his Pavane Lacrimae on the song Flow My Tears from his contemporary, composer John Dowland (1563 – 1626). This Dowland song, made for lute and singing voice, was very influential at the time. It is one of the first examples of the 'trend' of melancholy at the time, the emotional mood about which much was written about at the time. This is also often used by Philipsz in her work.
Susan Philipsz experimented before Seven Tears with different sound types. The first string version was followed by a brass version with organ pipes, followed by the final version. In the work for Willemsplein, Sweelinck's composition is played by musicians on glasses filled with water. Sweelinck is considered the most important Dutch composer of the Early Modern Period, in the transition from Renaissance to Baroque music. The composition refers to the dripping of tears as a motif and the element of Baroque lament; which appeals to the idea of ​​happiness as a fleeting emotion. The specially designed speakers mix the sounds and fragments of music with the sounds of the city. The sound landscape so remarkably unobtrusively accompanies the passers-by who walk under the bridge along the Maas and plays every evening during sunset.

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About the artist

The Scottish artist Susan Philipsz (Glasgow, 1965) has been using sound and music for more than twenty years in her work for public spaces and in art centers. In her work, for which she won the Turner Prize in 2010, she focuses on re-arranging and interpreting existing compositions or musical pieces based on the characteristics of the location used. Philipsz investigates the spatial qualities of sound and its emotional and cognitive dimensions. Her recent work often revolves around existential themes such as trauma and sadness. Susan Philipsz exhibited in countless museums and art centers in Europe and North America. She realized various projects in public space, including on Governor's Island, New York. Philipsz's work has been included in various large art collections, including those from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, The Tate in London and Museum Ludwig in Cologne. Her work is represented by gallery Ellen de Bruijne (Amsterdam) and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (New York).

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