Critics’ Picks

Susan Hiller, On the Edge, 2015, Rough Sea postcards, map, 482 views of 219 locations, mounted on 15 panels, 31 x 42”.

Susan Hiller, On the Edge, 2015, Rough Sea postcards, map, 482 views of 219 locations, mounted on 15 panels, 31 x 42”.

London

Susan Hiller

Lisson Gallery | 27 Bell Street | London
27 Bell Street
November 13, 2015–January 9, 2016

Few contemporary artists have taken up residence in the realm of the uncanny with as much assuredness and commitment as Susan Hiller. In her first solo exhibition in London since her retrospective at Tate Britian in 2011, we find a body of work that is at once wildly diverse in its forms and doggedly consistent in its rigorous pursuit of the ineffable, the marginal, and the forgotten.

On the Edge and Rough Dawns II, 2015, continue the artist’s interest in repurposing the postcard—an anonymous, commercially manufactured device for nostalgia—as an artistic medium. On the Edge is an effort to map the British landscape by tracing its boundaries via postcards collected from 219 seaside towns within the UK. Their depictions of blustery, romantic waves reveal the imaginary that subtends our notions of landscape and empire. In Rough Dawns II, a gridded suite of twelve prints, the artist pushes into the territory of the sublime by blowing up the postcard images and giving them vivid pink casts. And with the colorful video installation Resounding (Infrared), 2013, transcendence is taken to its most cosmic and mind-bending extreme when the artist combines, among other things, plasma waves and pulsars with audio transcriptions of the Big Bang, a message in Morse code from a lucid dreaming experiment, and audio testimonials of extraterrestrial encounters.

In his famous 1919 essay “The Uncanny,” Sigmund Freud argues, counterintuitively, that the unsettling feeling of uncanniness is rooted in the familiar. Recalibrating our everyday psychic environment is at the heart of Hiller’s practice: to connect with the otherworldly by touching this one.