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Z-Files #18 and unveiling Seven Tears: Susan Philipsz

Disclosure: 23 / 03 / 2017
Location: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Z-Files, Art and the City #18: reading, interview and festive unveiling of Seven Tears (2017) from Susan Philipsz
Date: Thursday 23 March, 16: 30 hour
Location Z-Files: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Location unveiling: Willemsplein, Rotterdam


On Thursday 23 March, a new sound artwork by the Scottish artist Susan Philipsz is unveiled that was specially made for the square under the Erasmus Bridge. The work is done through seven speakers scattered on Willemsplein Seven Tears to hear: a piece that the artist based on the composition Pavane Lacrimae by the Dutch composer Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562 - 1621).

Through the carefully distributed, specially designed speakers, the sounds and fragments of music mix with the sounds of the city. The sound landscape so remarkably unobtrusively accompanies the passers-by who walk under the bridge along the Maas and plays every evening during sunset. Seven Tears was commissioned by Sculpture International Rotterdam, and is an extension of the SIR collection.

Unveiling and Z-Files #18
Prior to the unveiling of Seven Tears a lecture and interview with Susan Philipsz takes place in the auditorium of Museum Boijmans van Beuningen. In this 18e edition of Z-Files, Art and the City gives Philips a presentation about the work Seven Tears that she designed specially for Willemsplein, after which Noor Mertens (director of Kunstverein Langenhagen and adviser SIR) talked to Susan Philipsz about her motives and oeuvre. After the Z-Files follows the unveiling of the artwork on Willemsplein.

At first sight, Willemsplein seems a remarkable location for Philipsz's work. The Erasmus Bridge, where cars and trams roam over all day and evening, yawning gulls and honking boats is one of the noisiest places in Rotterdam. But this place in the middle of the city noise under the bridge was a perfect location for Philipsz to use Sweelinck's melancholy. Sweelinck is considered the most important Dutch composer of the Early Modern Period, in the transition from Renaissance to Baroque music.

Pavane Lacrimae
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 melancholia at the time, the mood that was written about a lot at the time. This is also often used by Philipsz in her work.

Seven Tears
Philipsz experimented in front of the square under the Erasmus bridge that is bordered by apartment complexes, the Erasmus bridge and the Maas with different sound types. The first string version was followed by a brass version with organ pipes, followed by the final version. In this version, Sweelinck's composition is played by musicians on glasses filled with water. The composition refers to the dripping of tears as a motif, and the element of Baroque lament; which appeals to the idea of ​​happiness as a fleeting emotion. Through the scattering of the music over seven channels, the tones and the ambient noise merge into fragments of sounds and music over time.

About the artist
The Scottish artist Susan Philipsz (1965, Glasgow) has been using sound and music for more than twenty years in her work for public spaces and in art centers. In her work, for which she won the Turner Prize in 2010, she has been re-arranging and interpreting existing compositions or musical pieces for more than 20 years 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 existential themes such as trauma and sadness.

Susan Philipsz exhibited in countless museums and art centers in Europe and North America. She realized various projects in public space, including on Governor's Island (New York). Philipsz's work has been included in various large art collections, including those from 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).

From North to South
Seven Tears was commissioned by Sculpture International Rotterdam (SIR). SIR is the international program for art in the public space of CBK Rotterdam. The work is part of the international image collection of Rotterdam. This artwork is also the prelude to SIR's leap from the center over the river to Rotterdam South. SIR is developing a multi-year program for Zuid that makes use of all the possibilities that art and the city offer, with the area itself as the driver. The program includes expanding the collection with permanent and temporary artworks, research projects, interventions, Z-Files and an international triennial organized. All this under the working title Paleis Maashaven.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen: Crazy about Surrealism
Prior to your visit to the Z-Files you will receive on Thursday 23 March on presentation of your registration for the Z-Files free entrance to the museum. Museum Boijmans van Beuningen is currently hosting the exhibition Crazy about Surrealism to see. For the entire exhibition overview you can visit the website.

The CBK Rotterdam programs BKOR en Sculpture International Rotterdam collaborate intensively to strengthen and renew the Rotterdam public space. They organize regularly Z-Files about art and the city in which art, public space and the city are addressed through lectures, presentations and excursions. Goal of Z-Files (where the Z refers to The destroyed city from Ossip Zadkine and the controversy surrounding the possible relocation of this work in 2014) is to bring attention to the special collection of artworks in the public space of Rotterdam and to highlight current developments in the city. Z-Files, Art and the City #18 is organized by Sculpture International Rotterdam and Museum Boijmans van Beuningen. Seven Tears is made possible in part by the municipality of Rotterdam.

TENT is the platform for contemporary art in the context of Rotterdam with exhibitions, new productions, educational projects, performances and events with makers from the city and beyond.
To website TENT

Sculpture International Rotterdam manages the international sculpture collection of Rotterdam, brings it to the attention and develops a metropolitan international art policy.
To the SIR website

Forest polder fox, Florentijn Hofman, Schiedamseweg, 2020. Photo: Otto Snoek

BKOR manages and renews the extensive city collection in collaboration with Rotterdam residents, companies and institutions. BKOR advises the municipality, citizens and artists on the realization, placement, relocation and remediation of public works of art.
To the BKOR website

Art Office mediates, informs and supports visual artists from Rotterdam with regard to their professional practice. For artists, institutions and individuals.
To the Art Office website