Fondazione Antonio Ratti

Susan Hiller

The Provisional Texture of Reality

14 July 2011
FAR – Villa Sucota

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I like to say about my own work that I am committed to working with ghosts. That is with cultural discard, fragments, and things that are invisible to most people, but intently important to a few.

In the words of Susan Hiller, art and dream become coordinates of a single territory, built on the edge of our conscious life and explored by the artist's work. In the lecture given for the 17th edition of CSAV - Artists' Research Laboratory (when she was invited as a visiting professor), Susan Hiller describes the dream as an activity in which we are more honest with ourselves and closer to nature, since we share this activity “with all other mammals and perhaps with other creatures as well and with other life forms ”. Artists have always explored these other states of consciousness, recovering and reflecting the segments rooted in an imaginary that we often share without even knowing. The artist's work - as well as the work of dreams - brings to light the shared texture of these symbols that silently shape our reality: in that sense - concludes the artist - all dream imagery is always social in origin.

Susan Hiller (Tallahassee 1940 - London 2019) had been internationally recognised since the 1970s for her research into aspects of our culture considered marginal or largely ignored. The radical and innovative use of different media in her works made her a point of reference for the younger generation of artists. Hiller combined knowledge derived from anthropology, psychoanalysis and other scientific disciplines with materials generally considered unimportant, such as postcards, wallpaper, cassette films and stories of UFO sightings, creating a balance between the familiar and the inexplicable. Her practice often explored subconscious processes, including dreaming or automatic writing. Prioritizing the repressed, the forgotten, the unknown, Susan Hiller analyzed, recontextualized and gave status to what lies outside or below cultural recognition. Her work was represented in solo exhibitions at, among others, Tate Britain (London), Castello di Rivoli (Turin), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), Joy Art Gallery, (Beijing), Kunsthalle (Basel), Kunst-Raum des Deutschen Bundestages (Berlin), Museu Serralves (Porto), Fondacion Mendoza (Caracas).
Hiller explored the intersections of memory, history and the unacknowledged in a number of publications. Her talks and interviews have been collected in two books: The Provisional Texture of Reality, published by JRP Ringier in 2008 and Thinking about Art: Conversations with Susan Hiller, published by Manchester University Press in 1996. She is the author of The J.street Project published by the DAAD and Compton Verney Trust, 2005 and After the Freud Museum, published by Bookworks Press in 1995, reprinted 2000.

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