b. 1965, Scotland

Too Much I Once Lamented, 2019

5-channel sound installation
3:14 minutes; dimensions variable
Edition 1 of 3, 2APs

Collection of The Bass. Purchased through the John and Johanna Bass Acquisition Fund (2020.6.1).

Susan Philipsz explores the psychological and sculptural potential of sound using recordings of her own untrained voice, leaving in breaths and imperfections, to investigate how sound can trigger memory and emotions. Philipsz creates site-specific works in response to the architecture and history of the space, prompting introspection and an exploration of themes based on personal and collective loss, longing, hope and return.

With Too Much I Once Lamented, Philipsz sings her own rendition of the 1622 madrigal song by Welsh composer Thomas Tomkins, a five-part ballad describing a heartbroken lover in a state of solitary reflection, separately recording each of the five parts herself. Although madrigal compositions traditionally aim to achieve the illusion of breathlessness in creating a seamless whole by layering multiple voices over one another, in her rendition Philipsz purposely makes her inhalations and pauses clearly audible, emphasizing separation over unity, and feelings of solitude and isolation.

Photography by Emily Broeckaert.