At the weekends an eerie quiet descends on the City of London, in offices, squares, churchyards and streets, broken by the occasional sound of traffic and church bells. The silence of the city has inspired artist Susan Philipsz’s first commission in the capital. Her unaccompanied voice resonates through empty streets around the Bank of England, across postwar walkways and medieval alleyways and along the banks of the River Thames.
SURROUND ME: A Song Cycle for the City of London takes inspiration from the heightened presence of the human voice in Elizabethan London. To be heard over one another a natural order and harmony evolved in the cries of the street traders which enthused composers of popular song such as Thomas Ravenscroft to write canons where one voice follows the other in a round. Another popular song form for several voices, the madrigal emerged in Italy in the 16th Century and soon travelled to England where it flowered as the English Madrigal School.
SURROUND ME embraces the vocal traditions of the City of London connecting themes of love and loss with those of fluidity, circulation and immersion; the flood of tears, the swelling tide and the ebb and flow of the river, to convey a poignant sense of absence and loss in the contemporary City of London.
Susan Philipsz has been nominated for the Turner Prize 2010 for Lowlands, a work installed under three bridges beside the River Clyde in Glasgow. Her work is in the Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain, 5 October 2010 – 3 January 2011.
This project is supported by Arts Council England, Special Angels and The Company of Angels.