Susan Hiller at MOT International

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Artist: Susan Hiller

Exhibition title:  Aspects of the Self 1972-1985

Venue: MOT International, Brussels, Belgium

Date:  February 12 – April 30, 2016

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and MOT International London & Brussels

MOT International is delighted to present the first solo exhibition of Susan Hiller in Belgium. Acclaimed as one of the most influential artists of her generation, Hiller has developed over the past forty years a practice that continuously questions belief systems and the production of meaning. Mining cultural artefacts whose potential has been previously hidden, forgotten or repressed, her work explores the liminality of irrational phenomena such as the practice of automatic writing, near-death experiences and collective encounters of unconscious, subconscious and paranormal activity.

Susan Hiller: Aspects of the Self 1972-1985 focuses on key pieces from the 70s and 80s, some already iconic such as the installations 10 Months and Monument (Foreign Version), and others rarely exhibited such as Bad Dreams. 10 Months (1977-79) consists of photographs taken by the artist of her body during pregnancy, arranged in 10 ‘lunar’ months and accompanied by extracts from her journal entries. The work is the artist’s personal investigation into metaphors for creativity (‘pregnant with thought’, ‘giving birth to an idea’ etc). The texts and methodical process of representation contrast with the landscape references of the images to destabilise traditional notions of pregnancy.

The early mixed-media installation Monument (Foreign Version) (1980-1) consists of 41 photographs, one for each year in the artist’s life, depicting plaques from a public memorial that commemorates individuals who sacrificed their lives in heroic acts to save others. The accompanying soundtrack is narrated in English, French, German and, for the first time ever, in Dutch. Viewers may sit on the park bench in front of the photographs to listen to the soundtrack, therefore becoming part of the installation as seen by others.

Tiny self-portraits produced in automatic photo booths in the 70s are displayed alongside greatly-enlarged versions combined with Hiller’s automatic writing. In Bad Dreams (1981-3), red velvet curtains open to reveal Photomat portraits and excerpts from the artist’s personal dream diary. Articulating various modes of self-representation through a unique selection of works, Susan Hiller: Aspects of the Self 1972-1985 is a journey into one particularly fascinating facet of the work of this ground-breaking artist.

Susan Hiller was born in 1940 in the USA and has been based mainly in London since the early 1960s. Her career has been recognised by major survey exhibitions at the ICA, London (1986); ICA, Philadelphia (1998); Museu Serralves, Porto (2004); Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2006); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2007); Kunst-Raum des Deutschen Bundestages, Berlin (2008); Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Nuremberg (2012) amongst others, and includes a major retrospective exhibition at Tate Britain, London (2011). Her work features in numerous international private and public collections including the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Ludwig Museum, Cologne; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Gallery, London and the Centro de Arte Contemporanea Inhotim, Brazil.

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Susan Hiller, Aspects of the Self 1972-1985

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Susan Hiller, Monument, 1980-1981

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Susan Hiller, Aspects of the Self 1972-1985

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Susan Hiller, Midnight Miami, 1985

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Susan Hiller, 10 Months, 1977-1979

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Susan Hiller, Bad Dreams, 1981-1983