Cultural Life: Susan Philipsz

Susan Philipsz is a Scottish artist best known for her audio recordings. She is shortlisted for the 2010 Turner Prize. This interview was conducted for The Independent as part of their ‘Cultural Life’ feature.


I’m a big fan of Will Oldham, aka Bonnie Prince Billy. He let me use one of his songs in my work recently, which I was really happy about. I also came across Anne Briggs through the Scottish singer Alasdair Roberts and I think her version of Lowlands is amazing. For live music I saw Muscles of Joy recently in Glasgow as part of the Glasgow International Festival. They’re a pretty unique all girl a cappella band and they’re great!


German TV is crap so I don’t watch it much. I miss UK comedy a lot so I’ve been watching Limmy’s Show and Still Game on YouTube. I’ve missed all the great TV series like Mad Men and The Wire. I’ll have to buy the box set.


My brother Tony recommended A Prophet, which I got out on DVD and thought it was pretty amazing, although I didn’t think I would. I’m a big Werner Herzog and Fassbinder fan, One of my favourite Fassbinder films is Fear Eats the Soul and I watched all thirteen episodes of Berlin Alexanderplatz when I arrived in Berlin first. We have an alternative English language cinema near us in Schöneberg and I go there a lot when I’m in town.

Visual Arts

Michael Fullerton’s current show Columbia at Chisenhale works on many different levels, which is what I especially love about his work. It’s intelligent and thought provoking and tender and beautiful at the same time. I just came from Warsaw where the Museum of Modern Art are doing some really interesting things. They’re like an itinerant museum, creating projects around the city and harnessing the support of the tight knit artist community that live there.


A friend gave me Werner Herzog’s diary Conquest of the Useless and it’s pretty riveting stuff. It’s his diary of the making of Fitzcarraldo and you really get a day by day account of his journey into the Amazonian jungle. Despite everything that he has to endure and the precariousness of making a film in this environment, he finds a calm that transcends all the madness. After reading the diary you get the feeling that the film is a documentary of the making of the film.

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