The Magic Lantern - 1987
MUSEOLOGICAL GESTURES : SUSAN HILLER
A show review article Written by Francis Patrick Brady for Jotta Contemporary Here
There is the inert afterglow of spiritualism surrounding Hiller's work as it passes past explanation towards a surreal and fantastical experience of the profane reality of an object, image or recording. The receptacles, indexes, viewing cabinets, containers and codices that house Hiller's work represent the pseudo museological gestures implied by her practice, borrowing the voice of Victorian institutional authority. This act of curating and ordering culture implies, through its mannerisms, a hierarchy as if to say 'I am a piece of culture that is worth your attention'; the appropriation of affect impresses upon the viewer her subjective role as analyst and conservationist.
The Tao of Water Homage to Joseph Beuys - 1969 to 2010
Influenced by the minimal aesthetics of Dada and Fluxus, Hiller places objects and ephemera from the ordinary or everyday into situations of study, as with An Entertainment (1990) the strange otherness of Punch and Judy is magnified, highlighting ulterior understandings of our cultural rituals. She subtly passes between an objective interpreter and spiritual guide rhyming in various mediums through out her installations. Magic Lantern (1987) finds projectors casting spheres of coloured light upon the wall whilst the audience, seated in rows, listens to a choreographed recording made from her own voice and Raudives 1968 EVP experiments.
Passing through the gallery space, from the numbered plates of The Last Silent Movie (2007) to the cross referenced locations of Dedicated to the Unknown Artists (1972-6), cataloguing the problem of owning a true record of an event which we did not witness. It's hard not to think about the show's present relevance in relation to the social and technological relocationing of the methods for recording our everyday lives; the presence of the Internet realises individual orderings of cultural meaning, thus displacing the institutional voices of authority. Notably the sentiment of her work Witness (2000) suggests a preservation of faith in individual experience, yet the many overlapping audio testimonials provide an apt metaphor as they negate each other, becoming a noise much like communities on the world wide web.
The Last Silent Movie - 2007
The reverence of unknown postcard artists in Hiller's work reveals her affinity with the individuals relegated from Victorian institutions of remembrance for their associations with disposable kitsch. Her work embarks on a reconciliation of the personal and the public collection. Hiller is interested in an affirmative reconfiguring of traditions within record keeping, though perhaps shares similar ideologies to institutions such as Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, or archive.org a website which attempts to record everything on the Internet.