٠ Susan Hiller & the transformative potential of investigation ٠

Susan_Hiller_sisters_of_menonSusan Hiller, Sisters of Menon, 1972 -79. 4 L-shaped panels of automatic writing, blue pencil on A4 paper with typed labels

dedicatedHiller-Press-12Susan Hiller, Dedicated to the Unknown Artists, 1972-76. Installation view, Tate Britain, London.

«In fact, Hiller herself has commented that what her archive includes are moments missed, fleeting encounters with a movement that never registered in consciousness (and that is, as such, homologous with trauma): “We love these pictures because they freeze a movement which otherwise we never realize we see.It is this element in Hiller’s archive that interests me most, a moment of missing out that is akin to the anaesthetizing experience Kant linked to the sublime. As an instance of transcendent greatness to which nothing can adequately be compared, the sublime points (as Kant remarked) to a problem of (or in) judgment. If the majestic, crashing waves and the harsh rock faces on the postcards Hiller collected hint at the natural sublime, the utter banality and clichéd depiction of the postcards together with their obvious manipulation—a trauma of the medium itself that is reminiscent of Warhol—neutralize any such reference. Although the sheer size of the archive with its mass of collected images could produce a sublime effect, that effect is emphatically a result of technical reproduction and serial repetition, and as such is distinctly out of joint with the singularity of the eighteenth-century sublime. […]

Voyage on a Rough Sea Homage to Marcel Broodthaers 2009Susan Hiller, Homage to Marcel Broodthaers: Voyage on a Rough Sea, 2009, 16 archival dry prints

[the writing] testifies to a private communicative practice far removed from the universalizing aspirations of nineteenth-century historicism. What the postcards show and what the written greetings and notes transcribe are less what the individuals who sent them actually saw than — as Hiller herself remarked — what they wanted to see. The moment captured by the postcards, for all its natural drama, is a moment missed. Hiller’s archive is thus a storehouse not of objective facts but rather of desire deferred and reproduced. […]

716d3dfc-9966-4bd8-b3d1-8fdaee915dcb--00000--Timothy_Gallery_Susan_Hiller,_Home_Nursing_Homage_to_Joseph_BeuysSusan Hiller, Homage to Joseph Beuys, series of felt-lined cabinets containing antique bottles of holy water collected by the artist around the world; ongoing from 1969-2011

Photography presents a spatial continuum; historicism seeks to provide the temporal continuum…. Historicism is concerned with the photography of time.” If historicism is concerned with “the photography of time,” then the PP-based archive with its formal, linear succession of moments is its natural institutional outlet, a spatiotemporal continuum that “simultaneously contains the meaning of all that occurred within that time.” As Kracauer and Roland Barthes after him made clear, photography does not show or represent the past or history; it merely marks indexically the moment of its own production

excerpt from Sven Spieker (2008), The Big Archive

susan-hiller-609x430From the Freud Museum 1991-6 by Susan Hiller born 1940Susan Hiller, From the Freud Museum, 1991-97, vitrine installation, size variable; 50 units, mixed media,texts, images.

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