Words of Gary Hill

24 Hours with Gary Hill _ Friday 09.02.2018 20.00h – Saturday 10.02.2018 20.00h

Today I truly enjoyed a part of the Marathon interview with American Video Artist Gary Hill, organised by West Den Haag, held during Art Rotterdam. He was interviewed by 12 professionals from the international art world in 2 hour blocks. I visited the venue twice during the day and heard Gary talking with Gert Hoogeveen (picture above), Willem van Weelden (picture in the middle), Benjamin Weil (last picture) and Baruch Gottlieb. You find more information about the project and speakers here.

Gary Hill is well-known for his unique combination of video, sound, performance and installation arts. He started with video arts in 1973 and grew an amazing and rich oeuvre in over 4 decades, receiving many prestigious awards on the way. A fine summary can be found on wikipedia.

Here, I briefly want to focus on some of the interesting exchange of ideas I personally liked during some parts of the marathon interview. Maybe it is more precise to speak in the plural of interviews, as the styles of the interviewers differed a lot, which made the project even more interesting. Of course, fatigue played definitely a role in the process as well. I witnessed parts after Gary spoke for over 15 hours and more!

There were moments I noticed Gary’s vision about the actual developing visual culture. It became clear that surely he makes his works as an alternative for the increasingly homogeneous visual world.

Gary Hill is particularly interested in the material and sonic properties of language. He can speak backwards for instance, it is not so difficult, he said as ‘you only have to understand how to play the instrument that is your mouth and voice. Forget that words do have letters and think about the sounds.‘ He remarked that backwards sound-talking is not a language anyway because they lack meaning. And he perceives ‘words also as a technology‘ which I found a wonderful analogy for thinking in systems.

There was a bit of talking about the way ‘drugs can be a tool of art too, you do not need virtual reality for that‘. It shows a human being as vulnerable as can be. He did not want to advocate drugs per se. However, he had no trouble with being the surfer boy, hippy artist from the 60’s, but he did mind the prejudiced opinions about these subjects in general.

Procreating is in our DNA, so creating comes from that‘. So he talked a lot about the process of art making and how concepts may lead you. It was clear that he saw a fine concept in a baptist church and ‘took a picture of it, because I really want to remember the idea‘.

But the work is still dormant while he is struggling with the essence of bringing the image and the sound/voice/text together. He found a metaphor for art making in the church as they may also bring up doubt as their subject and spoke out loud: ‘what else can it be than an act of faith?‘. But still ‘the devil is in the detail‘.

I admire many of his works and do understand his working process – which feels somewhat akin – now even better. He is also a strong believer in creativity. ‘Art can be over, but creativity will never stop‘, according to Gary Hill.



The exhibition will be held from 16.02.2018 till 13.05.2018 at West Den Haag.



Performance and panel discussion with Gary Hill, George Quasha & Charles Stein is 14.04.2018 at 20.00 hours, West Den Haag.