With a multimedia practice extending over 40 years, Susan Hiller was one of the most influential artists of her generation. Since first making innovative use of audio and visual technology in the early 1980s, her groundbreaking installations, multi-screen videos and audio works have achieved international recognition. Each of Hiller’s works is based on specific cultural artefacts from our society, which are used as basic materials. Many pieces explore the liminality of certain phenomena including the practice of automatic writing (Sisters of Menon, 1972/79), near death experiences (Channels, 2013) and collective experiences of unconscious, subconscious and paranormal activity (Belshazzar’s Feast, 1983-4; Psi Girls, 1999; Witness, 2000). Hiller’s powerful and resonant films range from the J Street Project (2002-05), a chillingly extensive search for every street sign in Germany bearing the word Juden (Jew), to The Last Silent Movie (2007), which also documents disappearance and absence, although this time through speech recordings of dying or extinct languages. Her psychologically charged and thematically varied practice amounts to an impassioned plea for the joys and mysteries associated with irrationality.
Susan Hiller (1940-2019) was born in Tallahasse, Florida. After graduating from Smith College in 1961, she went on to do doctoral studies in anthropology at Tulane University in New Orleans with a National Science Foundation fellowship. However she abandoned anthropology to become an artist, and from the mid ‘60s was based mainly in London. Her career has been recognised by major solo and survey exhibitions at institutions including Bloomberg SPACE, London, UK (2020); The Polygon, Vancouver, Canada (2018); Officine Grande Riparazioni, Turin, Italy (2018); Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami, FL, USA (2017); The Model, Sligo, Ireland (2014); Samstag Foundation, Copenhagen, Denmark (2014); Summerhall, Edingburgh, UK (2014); Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Toulouse, France (2014); Tate Britain, London, UK (2011); Kunstalle Nurnberg, Germany (2011); Centro Cultural Montehermoso, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain (2010); BAWAG Foundation, Vienna, Austria (2008); The Jewish Museum, New York, NY, USA (2008); Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy (2006); Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2005); Museu Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2004); Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK (2004); Museum of Contemporary Art, Roskilde, Denmark (2002); Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Norway (1999); ICA, Philadelphia, PA, USA (1998); Tate Gallery, Liverpool, UK (1996); Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, UK (1989); and ICA, London, UK (1986). She participated in Documenta 13 and 14, Kassel, Germany (2012, 2017); Manifesta 11, Zurich, Switzerland (2016); and in British Art Shows 2, 5 and 8, touring, UK (1984, 2000, 2015). Hiller’s work features in numerous international private and public collections including the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA; the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA; Tate Collection, London, UK; Seralves Foundation, Porto, Portugal; and Centro de Arte Contemporanea Inhotim, Brumadinho, Brazil.