Susan Hiller

Susan Hiller showing at Matt’s Gallery.

Susan Hiller. Channels.
6 March 2013

Florida-born, London-based artist Susan Hiller has her fourth show, Channels, running at Matt’s Gallery until Sunday, April 14. As one of the early exhibitors at the east London gallery running since 1979, Hiller’s 1991 show, An Entertainment, featured the first multi-screen video work in Europe. Much has changed since those days and in a world where a multiple interface experience of the world is the norm, her current exhibition is a vast audio-visual installation that is no doubt as immersing as the technological era that surrounds us.

Susan Hiller, 'Channels' (2013). Photo by Bernard G Mills. © 2013
Susan Hiller, ‘Channels’ (2013). Photo by Bernard G Mills. © 2013

Yet, no amount of scientific research can figure out what exactly is the cause of that age-old phenomenon of the ‘Near Death Experience’, which is something Hiller questions through the disembodied voices -spanning time, people and cultures -describing their experiences with the ‘other side’. Rather than offering an answer to the conundrum, the exhibit promises an unbiased exploration of NDEs, while examining the contradictions and shortcomings of our modern belief systems. **

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10 April 2011

The work of Susan Hiller involves some aspect of meaning-making that can only happen through a reciprocal interest in people and their place in the world. From explorations of the subconscious – with automatic writing and investigations of memory – to the self-reflective homage pieces dedicated to Joseph Beuys, Marcel Duchamps and Yves Klein, Hiller’s work is fundamentally motivated by a deep curiosity about the ways in which her fellow human beings make sense of their environment. This retrospective exhibition at Tate Britain also highlights that the works require an audience to fully come into their own.

Homage to Marcel Duchamp (detail) 2008

In this sense, Hiller does not just see people as good subjects for her art but she invests a great level of trust in them to appropriate her works and instill them with meaning, personal and universal, by providing tentative answers to her questions. What remains of disappearing languages (The Last Silent Film)? Why are paranormal experiences so similar across the world (Witness)?  The works are most often developed in series and they are not classified in any ideological or value driven system. After the Freud Museum is a collection of 50 boxes containing relics, talismans and mementos that leads to a re-evaluation of the boundaries and value systems of the museum: whereas this type of display was once the mainstay of archaeological museums, why is it not so common to encounter it in a contemporary art gallery? Perhaps because they proceed less from a typology of art than from a typology of human interest.

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