For this task, my group decided to assign two people to each area. 

process: SUSPEND

practitioner: SUSAN HILLER

material: WOOD

I was assigned to research the practitioner, Susan Hiller. My information was collected from the library at CSM King's Cross, as well as on Susan Hiller's personal website.




"Each of Susan Hiller’s works is based on specific cultural artifacts from our society, which she uses as basic materials. Many of her works explore the liminality of certain phenomena including the practice of automatic writing (Sisters of Menon, 1972/79; Homage to Gertrude Stein, 2010), near death experiences (Channels, 2013), and collective experiences of unconscious, subconscious and paranormal activity (Dream Mapping, 1974; Belshazzar’s Feast, 1983-4; Dream Screens, 1996;Psi Girls, 1999; Witness, 2000)."

  • language, gender, desire, death are the content of her art
  • paranormal activity, alien abductions, séances, the healing power of holy water, levitation, auras
  • may show hidden or suppressed cultural potentials
  • makes work out of objects she has collected for numerous years
  • work is critical and aesthetic
  • influenced by permutational minimalism
  • works in a conceptualist third stream
  • work is informed by her empathy with the 'Other' and by her insight into the structure of language as a basis of social structures
  • a functioning visionary collaborating with the culture, confronting social control with the mystery of everyday things and thoughts
  • sets out to erode the supposed boundaries between dream life and waking life
  • implies fulfillment of popular desires for change that are currently channelled off into science fiction, horror movies or TV sitcoms, where fantasies are imposed from outside and above
  • desires to know the unknowable roots of language
  • pressures viewers to into the difficulties of discovering new structures in the familiar
  • explores cultural signs and codes
  • often includes found materials in her work
  • no matter the material, they are never treated as neutral or blank, but as artefact's packed with cultural assumptions
  • work is beautiful but has an unsettling quality
  • a number of her installations use an audio component

"Her search for the curious, the overlooked and the intellectually discredited is, however, driven by political and ethical as well as aesthetic motives. To give significance to the apparently "meaningless, the banal, the unknown, even the weird and ridiculous" is to change the cultural balance of power – to recognise ideas and experiences that are scorned or stifled by mainstream culture and "normal life". From this principle to the 1970s feminist practice of "consciousness raising" – acknowledging and articulating the repressed aspects of women's lives – clearly isn't a long stretch, and Hiller has always stressed her work's feminist tendency."


I enjoyed the photoseries below focused on levitation because it shows three different types of people experiencing what I believe to be paranormal activity. To me the group of nuns is somewhat creepier than the man and women levitating because of their religious symbolism.

To me this installation has an eerie feel to it because of the glistening objects in a dark room. I liked that although the objects suspended from the ceiling are beautiful, the objects as a whole create a sense of insecuirty. It made me think why are these objects here and are they maybe trying to stop you from passing through them to find out what lies beyond them.


"Dream Mapping, 1973 was an art event provocatively poised between an experiment (social or scientific) and a performance without an audience. Seven dreamers slept for three nights inside “fairy rings” in an English meadow marked by an abundance of circles formed naturally by Marasmius oreades mushrooms, a landscape feature that occurs in a number of British folk myths. The field became a site for dream experiences which were discussed and mapped the following morning. The dream maps of each participant were collected and copied onto transparent paper, sandwiched together, and traced to compile a composite group map for each night. A number of shared features were noted."

I found this act of sleeping and documentation to be very odd yet intriguing. This is the first time I've read or seen any sleep studies done in the middle of a field. To me this is another example of how Hiller's creativity drives her to explore objects in an unlikely location.


"Channels is an artwork designed to engage us in a consideration of some of the gaps and contradictions in our modern belief system and collective, cultural life.  It is …a destabilising aesthetic device opening to the un-representable." (Susan Hiller)

The rectangular screens that make up this large piece, along with their alternating colors displayed on the screens sparked my curiosity. They made me wonder what are they doing there, what message are they trying to send, and what is their purpose. I liked the way they are fit together in different directions like puzzle pieces, forming one large artistic piece.


"In this print, Hiller’s combines eight found “aura photographs” exploring our desire to experience, record, and classify spectral phenomena."

Aura's have always been fascinating to me because of the beautiful array of colours, and the symbolism that they have towards the way a person is or feels.

"Hiller’s early training as an anthropologist, a career she rejected on the grounds of its apparent phoney objectivity, has been much commented on as an abiding influence, for she apes its methodology, assiduously documenting and cataloguing and presenting written or audio-recorded commentaries. And as much as anything she’s concerned not just with the subjectivity of experience but the subjectivity of interpretations of the world presented as fact."

SUSAN HILLER, TATE BRITIAN written by Fisun Güner at


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