OPENING SUNDAY NOVEMBER 6 2022, FROM 2PM TO 6PM
Gary Hill's works brought together here are more ramifications pre sent in past or recent issues than a group closed, so to speak, on itself, complete in itself, moved by an easy-to-spot guiding principle. This precaution is not only rhetorical, because we can be surprised at apparently heterogeneous works, but that, if we look closely at and listen to them, are part, in extending them, of the astonishing plastic finds that the artist regularly presents.
Among others, the most obvious is the work on language, both written and oral, taking form in different supports. The Engender Project series (2022) consequently offers a range of personal pronouns in English and French (she, he, il, elle) by visually crossing and by its locution and diction the passages or the straddling of words that can both dissolve them in a growing lack of distinction and mark their clear separation, depending on the reading or enunciation meaning. What linguists call the "double articulation," the first comprising monemes, the smallest units of meaning, and the second, phoneme, which make it possible to distinguish one moneme from another (la/ma, for example). Because the double articulation is specific to any human language, it is obvious to anyone that for the two languages chosen here this idea is to be taken literally and figuratively, since it distinguishes as much as it articulates the human and grammatical gender(s) socially laid claim to for quite some time. The title of the piece and the "project" (In danger) can moreover be understood as "putting in gender, like "putting in danger."
As human language is also generally linked to infinitely small transitions between sound and meaning, this even more so when it is pushed rather far (he.she/i.elle), in a number of videos and installations, Gary Hill has manipulated, deformed, exaggerated these possibilities - notably by reading aloud texts backwards filmed as such and then projected backwards to recover the initial meaning - to the point of often producing abstract language, in the same way as abstract painting exists. But as Picasso remarked concerning this genre or style, painting of nothing does not exist; and neither does sound of nothing, and sound, even when very reduced, sometimes to a single letter (the distinctive units of phenomes, tu/ta), or to an ordinary street noise (tires screeching) can be understood and interpreted according to a certain meaning.
This abstractization of sound that makes sense is found in Klein Bottle with the Image of Its Own Making (2014), a direct reference to Robert Morris' work, Box with the Sound of Its Own Making (1961). In the latter case, the wood box made by the artist contains the totality of the sound of its fabrication from the beginning to its completion, whose result is found before us. Gary Hill has used this idea, but this time with the image of its fabrication projected in "Klein's bottle." This curious bottle - imagined for the first time in 1882 by the German mathematician Felix Klein - unlike Morris' box, has no rim, inside or outside, because the surfaces all blend in with each other. It is not impossible that, situated in the context of this ensemble in which Engender Project is found, we can consider with a grain of salt that the bottle does not have any defined gender or has all of them. At first an object of speculation for topologists, different social sciences (anthropology, with Levi-Strauss; psychoanalysis, with Lacan) have made it a conceptual tool with aims other than mathematics. The nature of human language should be added to it and, more exactly, the inescapably reflexive dimension, which the great linguist Émile Benveniste would call the "double significance of language. In speaking, writing, we are aware of using signs that signify to express other significations on a second level, and consequently make statements, even implicitly, on the very meaning of the signs of our significations. Put otherwise, we know that in talking or writing we necessarily treat the language and signs that make it possible to speak or write. The Klein Bottle can be a metaphor of language in which the signification of signs and the semantic signification overlap, are a matter of a double surface on which meaning and signs to signify are both the interior and exterior of language.
Jacinto Lageira, november 2022