So how do you install a piece of sound art?

By Neil Smith
Arts reporter, BBC News

  • Published
Sarah Philipsz
Image caption,
Philipsz is the fourth woman to win the modern art award

Glasgow-born artist Susan Philipsz has won this year's Turner Prize for a sound installation that features her singing a Scottish lament.

It is the first time a sound installation has won the modern art prize, something that is likely to boost the value and profile of her intangible work.

If you happened to run an art gallery and wanted to present her prize-winning work there, how would you go about it?

Well, your first port of call might be the Isabella Bortolozzi gallery in Berlin, where the 45-year-old artist exhibited Lowlands Away in 2008.

"Each work comes with specific technical installation instructions," says a gallery spokesman, adding that the artist is usually present to see they are followed to the letter.

Even if she is not, the work - presented via a high-quality sound file specially recorded for the installation - comes with a signed certificate confirming its authenticity.

One thing he won't be drawn on, though, is the current value of Philipsz's work and if the prestige of the Turner Prize will raise the profile of sound art.

For that one must turn to John Kieffer, director of Sound and Music, an organisation that promotes and produces the relatively new art form the Turner panel has chosen to celebrate.

"Most sound art is commissioned for a particular place," he tells the BBC News website. "Most of the stuff we do, for example, would be made specially for a specific location.

"If we were to commission a piece we would probably be talking about a couple of thousand pounds.

"But there are galleries buying pieces of work as well as commissioning them," he continues, citing an installation by the artist John Wynne bought by the Saatchi Gallery in London earlier this year.

"One of the questions is whether [Philipsz's Turner Prize win] will create a market for sound art.

"At the moment it's like a subsection of the visual arts and the contemporary music world. It operates in the hinterland between the two."

Philipsz has also exhibited at the Tanya Bonakdar gallery in New York, which presented her work I See a Darkness earlier this year.

Another of her installations, Surround Me, can be heard at various locations in the City of London until 2 January.

The latter piece was commissioned by the Artangel Trust, whose spokeswoman said it had taken most of this year to prepare.

"It's a complicated production process," she added - though she too could not be drawn on how much that process costs.

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.