The Internationale

Philipsz, Susan
Susan Philipsz works with sound and its relationship to architecture and public space. She often takes popular or forgotten songs and places them in different urban environments, mostly outdoors but also in supermarkets, malls and galleries. The songs are then amplified and punctuate the space as pedestrians (listeners) pass by. She is interested in the emotive and psychological properties of song and how it can evoke certain memories and reactions. In this work, the artist recorded herself singing 'The Internationale' and played it through two trumpet speakers in a public underpass in Ljubljana, Slovenia, a former Soviet country. The song was once a rallying call for socialists around the world, but is now almost forgotten. Philipsz sings unaccompanied, her voice faltering and pausing for breath is deliberately ambiguous, neither passionate nor sorrowful yet with elements of both. The artist says 'It could be interpreted as either a lament for something that has passed or as the song suggests, a clarion call for political action.' Rachel Arndt
  • Artwork Details: running time: 1 minutes 54seconds cabinet, 51 x 41 x 25cm speaker, each, 36 x 25.5cm
  • Edition: 2 of 3 + 2 AP
  • Material description: sound installation
  • Credit line: © the artist
  • Theme:
  • Medium: Film and Audio Visual
  • Accession number: ACC17/2007



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