Born 1965, Glasgow, United Kingdom.
Lives and works in Berlin
TheTwo Sisters, 2009
2 Channel Sound Installation (voice), 3 Channel Sound Installation (violin), 8’
Courtesy Studio Susan Philipsz
The Two Sisters is a five channel sound installation, which tells the story of a drowning and touches on themes of repetition, loss and mourning. The ballad The Wind and the Rain has its origins in Scotland and Ireland and was published as The Twa Sisters in Jamieson’s Popular Ballads in 1656. The song has many versions but its essence remains the same. The story is one of sororicide, where one sister drowns the other in a jealous rage. The river carries her drowned body until a fiddler comes across her remains. Her bones and hair are fashioned into a fiddle but the fiddle can only play The Wind and the Rain.
I’ve recorded two versions of the song and have them play from two separate speakers simultaneously. While one version is sung in the third person the second version is sung in the first person, as if taking on the figure of the drowned sister. The different versions merge and overlap but they always come back together at the refrain. After the songs are finished there is a silence and the work begins again.
Another part of the same work is a three-channel sound recording of a violin bow being dragged across single strings. The sound has a haunting quality and makes reference to the rudimentary fiddle fashioned from the corpse of the drowned sister. These recordings are played from three corners of the gallery space in an endless loop.