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UAL Research Online

Speaking volumes: the art of Susan Hiller

Withers, Rachel (2004) Speaking volumes: the art of Susan Hiller. ArtForum International, 43 (3). pp. 182-187. ISSN 1086-7058

Type of Research: Article
Creators: Withers, Rachel

This feature-length article was published to coincide with ‘Susan Hiller: Recall’, a major retrospective launched at Baltic Arts Centre, Gateshead, 2004, travelling to Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Serralves, Portugal and the Kunsthalle, Basel in 2005.

The piece fulfilled two agendas: to provide information on Hiller's practice to a transatlantic readership of art professionals and laypeople likely to be less familiar with it than European audiences, and to present a new critical frame for the work. In scholarly terms, the article forged an original argument by considering Hiller's critique of anthropology and defence of art as a first-order creative and critical discipline in the light of Hal Foster's analysis of the 'the ethnographic turn' (see Foster: ‘The Artist as Ethnographer in The Return of the Real’, MIT 1996 pp. 171-204). Defending Hiller's work against a prevalent, doctrinaire school of criticism that frequently dismisses engagement with (for instance) occult or supernatural material as symptomatic of a reactionary irrationalism or a lack of criticality towards so-called ‘spectacle culture’, it argued that the value of the work lies, in part, in its ability to compel reflection on the dilemma (as articulated by Foster) of ‘obscene proximity and spectacular distance’ from the anthropological other.

Developed with Hiller's editorial support, the article proceeded from a study of the artist's work started in the late 1980s, and an ongoing dialogue with Hiller initiated in the 1990s. Previous publications informing this article include Withers’ text on Hiller's ‘Witness’ (‘The World May Be Fantastic’, Catalogue, Biennale of Sydney 2002 pp. 101-104) and the public interview with Hiller at BALTIC on 27th May 2004 released as the DVD ‘Susan Hiller: Recall - Selected Works 1969-2004’ (BALTIC Library and Archive, 2004).

Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: RAE2008 UoA63
Your affiliations with UAL: Other Affiliations > RAE 2008
Colleges > Wimbledon College of Arts
Date: 1 November 2004
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2009 12:51
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2014 14:29
Item ID: 1763
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1763

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