new-york

Gary Hill

Galerie des Archives

What does it mean to be transfixed by your own body? Gary Hill may not have the answer, but Hand Heard, 1995–96, his startling recent installation comprising five large-scale projections in an octagonal room, suggested he’s been exploring the question. Each projected image depicted a person engaged in the rather mundane activity of scrutinizing his or her own palm. Hill’s construction was at once banal and poetic, even disturbing, and the longer you watched these figures stare endlessly into their hands, the more unnerved you became. What exactly were these people doing? And why were Hill’s images so mesmerizing, so oddly beautiful?

To take delight in one’s image in a mirror is undoubtedly narcissistic, and one has only to remove the mediating presence of the mirrored surface, and self-immersion can become a sign of psychosis. Sartre’s Nausea (1938) contains a vivid description of the

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