‘A Very Fragile, Delicate Sound’: Preview Art21’s Profile of Pioneering Sound Artist Susan Philipsz in Berlin

Artist Susan Philipsz, production still from the “Berlin” episode of Art in the Twenty-First Century, Season 9.

©2018 ART21, INC.

Through September, ARTnews is previewing one-minute clips from the ninth season of Art21’s show Art in the Twenty-First Century, which travels from the Bay Area to Johannesburg to Berlin.

This week’s preview follows the widely acclaimed Glasgow-born artist Susan Philipsz as she works in Berlin, recording the sound of a 19th-century bugle that has been pierced by a bullet. The session is for “War Damaged Musical Instruments,” a project started a few years ago by Philipsz, whose nuanced, often haunting, works examine sound’s psychological and historical resonances.

While many of the instruments that are part of the project can no longer be used to play music, “they still could produce sound,” Philipsz says. “Sometimes it would be a very fragile, delicate sound. And it was really more about the breath. I became interested in breath being a metaphor for life.”

Season 9 of Art in the Twenty-First Century premieres September 21 at 9 p.m. on PBS. “San Francisco Bay Area” airs September 28 at 9 p.m.

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