Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Susan Philipsz is best known for her arresting site-specific sound installations which explore notions of loss, longing, hope and return. She is interested in how sound can trigger memory and emotions.
Seven Tears was purchased for Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art with support from the Contemporary Art Society, Henry Moore Foundation and National Galleries of Scotland. The sound installation comprises seven synchronised record players, modified with a specially designed software-system, each playing a single tone taken from Lachrimae, or Seven Tears, a collection of instrumental music composed in 1604 by John Dowland (1563–1626). Considered by many to be the composer’s signature work, Lachrimae is based upon the motif of a single falling tear. As with much of Dowland’s music, it is melancholic in mood and follows the tradition of the Baroque lament by giving expression to the fleeting nature of happiness. To create the audio work, Philipsz took seven individual tones from Dowland’s Lachrimae and produced each on tuned glasses filled with water, played with a wetted finger on the rim. The recordings were then rendered onto the transparent vinyl records.
Seven Tears is an example of a long-running strand of Philipsz’s practice in which, rather than using her own voice, the artist employs and deconstructs the compositions of others. It is also among numerous works in which she uses physical equipment as both a means of replaying sound and as a sculptural entity in itself. In addition to being the first work by Philipsz to enter the National Galleries of Scotland collection, Seven Tears is also the first major sound and software-based artwork to join the museum.
Susan Philipsz OBE (b.1965, Glasgow, UK) lives and works in Berlin. Recent solo exhibitions include Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead; Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm; Balton Museum of Art, Austin (all 2017); Kunsthaus Bregenz (2016); Tate Britain, London (2015); Eastside Projects, Birmingham (2014). Recent group exhibitions include RMIT Gallery, Melbourne (2018); Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield (2017); The National Gallery, London (2015). In 2010 she won the Turner Prize.
Purchased with the support of the Contemporary Art Society and the Henry Moore Foundation, 2018/19