International Biennial of Contemporary Art Ljubljana,
23 June - 24 September 2000
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Cankarjev Dom
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Susan Philipsz
  *1965, lives in Belfast

The Internationale, 1999, sound installation

The artistic practice developed by Susan Philipsz deals with the evocative nature of sound, acting as a trigger for associative and emotional stimuli in the listener's memory. Through the feelings generated in this way, she renews and reinterprets the perceptions of space in which she exists. The artist's audio projects are adapted to the context of space in which they are set: either in terms of a specific environment with a clearly expressed identity, such as religious architecture, or an abandoned factory; her art functions in urban, socially more intensive environments such as supermarkets and bus stations, where the strategy of broadcasting sound effects is to address the public directly and to be explicitly thought-provoking. And this is precisely the kind of project that the artist chose for Manifesta 3. It is called The Internationale. In the vicinity of the Gallery of Modern Art, a single loudspeaker broadcasts, at ten-minute intervals, an audio recording of Philipsz's voice singing, a cappella, the Internationale, the revolutionary workers' anthem. The song's interpretation is intentionally ambiguous as the singer's voice conveys neither enthusiasm nor sadness, but rather, subdued nuances of both. The melody can be interpreted as a dirge for something that is no more, or - as is suggested by the content of the song - a call to political action. But instead of putting the listener in a dynamic relation to the environment, the song invokes in us an unusual feeling of self-awareness. The need to identify ourselves with the song - with the vulnerability of the lone voice, with the memories and associations which the melody brings to the surface - becomes clear to us since we experience it outside its original context. The song in fact directs our attention to the characteristics of the venue, which were not perceived before, and compels us to comprehend them in a different and novel way. This change in the perception of the environment and in the perception of ourselves within it affects the original understanding of the song, because its context has also changed. The circle has been closed - but not completed.

Address: Manifesta 3, Cankarjev Dom, Prešernova 10, SI - 1000 Ljubljana. Slovenia
phone: (+386 61) 1767143, 210956 fax: (+386 61) 217431 e-mail: