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. A first string version was followed by a wind 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 lamentation; appealing to the idea of ​​happiness as a fleeting emotion. Thanks to the specially designed speakers, the sounds and fragments of music mix with the sounds of the city. The soundscape thus 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

Scottish artist Susan Philipsz (Glasgow, 1965) has been using sound and music in her work for public spaces and art centers for over twenty years. In her work, for which she won the Turner Prize in 2010, she is concerned with rearranging and interpreting existing compositions or pieces of music 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 existentialist themes such as trauma and grief. Susan Philipsz has exhibited in numerous museums and art centers in Europe and North America. She has realized several projects in public space, including on Governor's Island, New York. Philipsz's work is included in several major art collections, including those of 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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