Uncaptioned image.
Uncaptioned image.

Friday 10 March 2023

Susan Hiller

Susan Hiller at Lisson Gallery

Rough Seas, a survey of Susan Hiller's Rough Seas works, opens at Lisson Gallery from March 14 – April 15

504 West 24th Street, New York

The exhibition tracks Hiller’s investigation into a particular cultural artifact, the ‘rough sea’ tourist postcard, which she began in the early 1970s and continued until her death in 2019. Rough Seas represents the influential artist’s third exhibition with the gallery and first in New York since 2017.

Having moved to the UK in the late ‘60s, the US-born Susan Hiller was in the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare when she came across an old Edwardian postcard bearing the image of waves crashing against the shore and the legend ‘rough sea’. Soon she began collecting similar postcards from junk stores in other coastal towns, recognizing them both as a form of collective portrait, a representation of Britain as an island nation, obsessed with the weather; and also as a domesticated, miniaturized version of the Romantic tradition of the sublime. Her first work to make use of this collection was the multi-panel installation, Dedicated to the Unknown Artists (1972-76), one of the best-known British conceptual works of the period (Tate collection). Positioning herself as curator, Hiller treated the postcards as miniature artworks, products of a previously unacknowledged artistic tradition in which anonymous workers, typically women, were employed to add hand-tinted effects and painted details to photographic images.

Subsequent ‘rough sea’ postcards that Hiller continued to acquire, between 1976 and 1982, were made into various Addenda to Dedicated to the Unknown Artists: small, single works that focused on specific themes.

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