Susan Philipsz, The Voices

Vienna, Austria May - November 2018
Four haunting musical notes have enveloped central Vienna’s Heldenplatz, or Heroes’ Square. An invisible artwork’s voice-like sounds swirl down from a former Hapsburg palace, and float across from two buildings on the other side of the huge public space. In her project called The Voices Susan Philipsz is using the eerie sound of fingers rubbed on water-filled glasses to remind visitors of the historical events which took place there.

On March 15, 1938, Austrians cheered German troops as they marched into the country, and three days later, tens of thousands on the Heldenplatz saluted Hitler as he addressed them from the palace balcony.

In her works, Susan Philipsz combines history with the presence, and space with sound which is the most important medium of expression in her art. Referring to past events she creates space which resonates with memories and emotions. The artist  was invited to create The Voices project by the Haus der Geschichte Österreich (The House of Austrian History) whose employees believe that the key role of the institution is to offer a critical analysis of their country’s history.

The installation forms a delicate, invisible haze of sound which turns Heldenplatz into the central memorial site of the Austrian history. The glass vibration rises into the air and fades away, at times reminding human voices, referring to the square as the place of public addresses and assemblies, and reviving the voices from the past which have been silenced. In the country where Anschluss is still a subject which has not been worked through, the sound space created by Susan Philipsz is a place for discussion about the history.

All photos come from the website of Haus der Geschichte Österreich.