The Dream Seminar II – XVII Advanced Course in Visual Arts

28 June – 26 July 2011, Como
Visiting professor Susan Hiller

14 July 2011
The Provisional Texture of Reality
open lecture by Susan Hiller
Opening of the Susan Hiller’s personal exhibition at Spazio Culturale Antonio Ratti

From June 28 to July 20 the Antonio Ratti Foundation hosts the  XVII edition of its Advanced Course in Visual Arts. Entitled The Dream Seminar II, the course will have Susan Hiller as its Visiting Professor. The course, directed since 1995 by Annie Ratti, is curated by Andrea Lissoni and Cesare Pietroiusti, and coordinated by Angela Maderna.

On July 14 Susan Hiller will give a conference entitled The Provisional Texture of Reality at the Foundation (Villa Sucota) at 7pm. It will be followed by the opening of the artist’s solo exhibition, at Spazio Culturale Antonio Ratti, which can be visited from Tuesday to Sunday, 4-8 pm until September 8, 2011.

Susan Hiller’s exhibition is centred on the impressing and fascinating 5-channel installation PSI Girls (1999), showed in Italy for the first time and installed specifically for the space of the Church of San Francesco.

PSI Girls presents five brief loop sequences of girls with paranormal telekinetic powers, depicted while concentrated in producing the movement of an object with the strength of their mind. The sequences are taken from five famous films (The Fury by Brian De Palma, 1978; The Craft, by Andrew Fleming, 1996; Matilda, by Danny De Vito, 1996; Firestarter by Mark Lester, 1984, and Stalker, by Andrei Tarkowsky, 1979), whose colours were altered by Susan Hiller. The artist transformed each film in a blue, yellow, red, purple and green monochrome. The original audio of the films was replaced by a single soundtrack, taken from the record of a gospel choir of St. George’s Cathedral of Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

The colours slide from one sequence to another in a casual way, and are projected in the surrounding environment, thus producing a constant alteration of the perception of the surrounding space. The alternation of sound and silence, together with the moving colours and the length of the single sequences, creates the hypnotic effect of a performative work that is constantly changing. This work immerses the viewer in a iridescent perceptive flux, and offers many possibilities of being seen and interpreted: from the representation of the “alienated” condition of the teenager, to that of the feminine identity; from the use of fonts to the artist’s possibilities of championing and manipulation, from a possible reflection on power, to that of the production of the contemporary imagery of the gender movie.

These images oscillate between different dimensions that go from the dreamlike experience, between alienation and activity, to a field of seduction from the latent erotism of the sequences, and even to a more contemplative dimension.

The Aura: Homage to Marcel Duchamp (2011), a photographic installation conceived by the artist for the exhibition that accompanies PSI Girls, contribute to set the Church of San Francesco in an obscure, mysterious, disturbing, but perhaps revealing environment. The exhibition opens way to a dialogue between art, illusion, magic and alteration of perception, themes close both to the great tradition of history of art of late Modernity, and n with the instances explored by Susan Hiller during the workshop The Dream Seminar II.

Susan Hiller was born in the USA in 1949 and has lived and worked in Britain since 1970s, when she became known for an innovative artistic practice excavating the overlooked or ignored aspects of our culture. She has adopted and combined media in ways radical for their time and she is acknowledged as an important influence on younger generations of artists.

Hiller cites Minimalism, Fluxus, aspects of Surrealism, anthropology and feminism as influences on her unique practice. She juxtaposes knowledge derived from anthropology, psychoanalysis and other scientific disciplines with materials generally considered unimportant, like postcards, wallpaper, popular movies and stories of UFO sightings, balancing the familiar and the unexplained and inviting the viewer to participate in the creation of meaning. She collects and uses images, objects and sounds to create new contexts, incorporating traces of memory, history, and personal allusions. Her practice often investigates subconscious processes, including dreaming, reverie, automatic writing and improvised vocalizations. Privileging the repressed, forgotten or unknown, Hiller analyses, recontextualizes and confers status on what lies outside or beneath recognition.

Solo exhibitions of Susan Hiller’s work were held at Tate, London; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Joy Art Gallery, Beijing; Kunsthalle, Basel; Kunst-Raum des Deutschen Bundestages, Berlin; Museu Serralves, Porto; Fondacion Mendoza, Caracas and other public institutions.

Hiller has explored the intersections of memory, history and the unacknowledged in a number of publications. Her talks and interviews have been collected in two books: The Provisional Texture of Reality (JRP Ringier, 2008) and Thinking about Art: Conversations with Susan Hiller (Manchester University Press,1996). She is the author of The J-Street Project (DAAD and Compton Verney Trust, 2005) and After the Freud Museum (Bookworks,1995; reprinted 2000).

Image above:

Susan Hiller, Magic Lantern, 1987
Audio-visual installation: slide projections with synchronised soundtrack; 3 carousels each with 12 35 mm slides, driven by electronic pulses. Programme duration 12 minutes. Dimensions variable


Psi Girls, 1999
Video installation: 5 synchronised programmes, 5 projections, colour with stereo sound, real-time audio processing. Programme duration 20 minutes
Dimensions variable


The Aura: Homage to Marcel Duchamp, 2011
3 colour dry prints, 1200 x 815mm (unframed)


The Aura: Homage to Marcel Duchamp, 2011
3 colour dry prints, 1200 x 815mm (unframed)


The Aura: Homage to Marcel Duchamp, 2011
3 colour dry prints, 1200 x 815mm (unframed)