Reference overview

Museum of Contemporary Art, Berlin

The historic Hamburger Bahnhof Hall in Berlin’s Museum of Contemporary Art is completely empty. Nothing stands between the steel columns of the former departure concourse, which currently hosts the sound installation “Part File Score”. Created by Scottish artist Susan Philipsz, who lives in Berlin, the installation is a homage to Jewish composer Hanns Eisler. The musician lived in Berlin during the 1920s, before being forced to emigrate in 1933. In 1938 he went to the USA where, following the Second World War, he was pursued by the FBI and accused of being a communist. “Part File Score” portrays his life from exile to arrival to persecution.

Philipsz’ exhibition is based on a 24-channel sound installation. From each of the 12 Fohhn LX-100 loudspeakers mounted on the two rows of columns come three pieces, based on Eisler’s compositions for film, that play one after the other. The tones are distributed among the loudspeakers so that as a piece plays, its sound “wanders” though the entire hall. At times it seems as if the corners of the room answer each other, while at other times pauses make it seem as though the music has lost itself within in the room. Philipsz has broken down the pieces and reduced them to single instrument extracts for violin, cello, trumpet and piano. She has recorded all the extracts herself in her studio, leaving out different notes. The sounds correspond with various pictures displayed on the walls of the hall: Eisler’s scores, overlaid with FBI files, his passport etc. “A sound can stir up deep emotions” says Philipsz, “even a slight noise can revive deeply embedded memories.”

We congratulate Firma Eidotech, Berlin on the successful implementation of this installation.

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