THU 28.1. 6.30 p.m.
Gary Hill in conversation with Chantal Pontbriand, Curator and Critic, Director of Mocca, Toronto
“The art identity ‘Gary Hill’ has an immediate association with video, and at the same time those who know his work usually think language as well. For the most part that means that in his work he has used words, both spoken and written, as well as the concept of language and linguistics. We can have an idea of video in much the way we do of paint – a known medium open to subtle reconception. But what about language? Not so clear, beyond the obvious presence of words, articulated human sounds, text. How do we know that we are in the presence of language? In the simplest sense it’s like the joke about how you know when the lawyer is lying; answer: his lips are moving. If it talks to you, it’s some king of language. If you can read it, it’s language”
(from: George Quasha / Charles Stein, An Art of Liminia: Gary Hill’s Works & Writings, Barcelona, Ediciones Polígrafa, 2009)
Gary Hill is intensively engaged with exploring the electronic image and seeking its specific possibilities of expression. His work with video art involves an approach that links different media and challenges the recipient’s perceptions. The Californian artist extensively began experimenting with electronically generated sounds and with the then new medium video early in the 1970s. In 1978 he met the poets George Quasha and Charles Stein who became long time friends and collaborators, and he started to explore the relationship between verbal and pictorial language. The phenomenon of reading, the connections between language, meaning and sound and their particular relationships in the moving image are all central to Hill’s oeuvre.
In the exhibition FUTURE PRESENT, the artist is represented with the video installation Dervish (1993–1995): “Dervish consists of a tower-like structure centrally positioned in a semi-circular room. Upon entering the space the viewer triggers a story of consciousness on the very edge of catastrophe, or perhaps, transformation. A spinning mirrored box with two video projectors looking on begins to strobe images of a well-off home and a sole being slowly breaking apart. As the whirling machine picks up speed, the space fills with a deafening sound. Shards and fragments of two independent images flicker, sliding across the curved wall at rapid speeds, at times coming together only to then fly apart. Windows, furniture, books, flowers, staircases, and piano innards are thrown from this powerful contraption with centrifugal abandon. A wave of chanting voices slowly overcomes the sound of the machine while processions of quivering fingers and books interweave across the projection arena. A last vision sees a naked man, on all fours, stroboscopically straining the viewer’s capacity to assimilate the persistence of vision. The title Dervish refers to the dances of the dervish monks.”
(from: Gary Hill, Selected Works + catalogue raisonné, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, 2001)
The artist’s talk is included in the price of admission.