Re-collections: Susan Hiller, Elizabeth Price, Georgina Starrexhibition • 16 Feb 2019 – 19 May 2019
Site's 40th year is autobiographical, bringing together the perspectives and voices that orate, narrate and envision its histories. The exhibitions, programmes and partnerships over the coming year will show the best of what Site gallery does, has done and will do.
We begin our 40th year by looking back – delving into the archive to unearth moments, connections and memories.
Re-collections brings together the work of three phenomenal artists from Site’s archive, honouring a tradition of supporting and championing women for the past 40 years. Together with its supporting programme, the exhibition explores how histories are remembered, recorded and retold. Moving between personal narratives, institutional records and oral histories, it touches on the myriad ways in which we collect and present our experiences.
At the heart of the exhibition is a space to excavate the past and consider the future – a platform to speak, listen, perform and remember. It is designed to be used by everyone, so please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to occupy the space.
Curated by Angelica Sule.
Image: Selection of slides from the Site Gallery archive © Site Gallery 2018
Photo by Helena Dolby
Susan Hiller (b. 1940, Tallahassee, FL)
Susan Hiller is an influential pioneer of video art and multimedia installation, best known for works that combine ideas of archiving in contemporary art with an emphasis on psychologically charged subjects. Each of Susan Hiller’s works is based on specific cultural artifacts from our society, which she uses as basic materials. She once said in an interview: “Our lives are haunted by ghosts, our own personal ghosts and the collective ghosts of our society.” These ‘ghosts’ are the starting points of art works based on cultural materials that she has created in a distinguished career of more than 40 years.
In Lost and Found, Hiller has made a composition of the voices of people who speak extinct, endangered and revitalized languages. We hear these voices addressing us in various ways. Some of them sing; others tell stories, recite vocabulary lists, reminisce, read the weather report or discuss car problems. Many of the anecdotes, songs, arguments, and memories that the speakers share with us revolve around the theme of language itself, sometimes communicating a powerful sense of grief, directly or indirectly referring to the histories of colonialism that led to the precarious state of their mother tongues. Throughout the work, a vibrating oscilloscopic line renders the unique sounds of the individual voices as they speak to us, providing an indexical representation of the experience of speech as it reverberates through the human body—an experience that remains universal despite any gulf of time, geography, or personal circumstance.
Elizabeth Price (b. 1966, Bradford, UK)
Elizabeth Price makes immersive video installations, which feature diverse historical materials, often gleaned from archival collections, including film and video footage, archival documents, plans and photographs and popular music. Her works are painstakingly produced and she regularly revisits older pieces, creating new and updated versions. She punctuates the visual material on the screen with bold, graphic interventions. Texts and slogans recall the aesthetics of advertising as well as political propaganda and combine corporate and academic theories of the world, to create a strange ritualistic undertone. Aural motifs are created from the music and rhythm of finger clicks, claps, percussion and samples of vocal harmonies.
A RESTORATION is a two-screen digital video installation that employs the photographic and graphic archives of the Ashmolean Museum and Pitt Rivers Museum. It is a fiction, set to melody and percussion, which is narrated by a ‘chorus’ of museum administrators who are organising the records of Arthur Evans’s excavation of the Cretan city of Knossos. The administrators use Evans’s extraordinary documents and photographs to figuratively reconstruct the Knossos Labyrinth within the museum’s computer server. They then imagine its involuted space as a virtual chamber through which museum objects digitally flow, clatter and cascade.
Georgina Starr (b. 1968, Leeds, UK)
Starr’s early works brought her to international attention in the 1990s, and since then she has developed a distinct language through the use of video, sculpture, performance, writing and sound. From her early studies in ceramics and sculpture, through large-scale, multi-layered moving image installations and performances, Georgina Starr has been engaged in a re-imagining of identity, biography and history.
Starr has always filmed herself in the process of making, as a way to capture herself bringing things to life and as proof that the ephemeral existed. Featured in Re-Collections, The Joyful Mysteries of Junior is a touching revisiting of this process.
Junior was conceived in a hotel room in Den Haag in 1994 and quickly became an integral part of Starr’s life. On the occasion of her 18th birthday in 2012, Junior re-emerged unexpectedly from the small green suitcase in which she had been kept for almost two decades. The Joyful Mysteries of Junior follows the artist and her diminutive alter-ego on a psycho-spiritual journey—from their lowly beginnings in a dingy Den Haag B&B (The Making of Junior) to international art exhibitions and finally their emotional reunion in 2012.