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entry: General Conditions

Wall Piece, 2000

Gary Hill


Since the first works that he created in the early 1970s, a large part of Gary Hill’s work has consisted of performances in which the artist acted either directly or through film recordings, mixing voice, words, various sounds emitted by him or proceeding from objects and equipment, thereby creating what to date is less a work of video art (although it belongs historically to this area) than a work of sound poetry or even of body poetry, since, on countless occasions, the artist’s body is involved in the pieces as matter and material.

In Wall Piece, Gary Hill repeatedly flings his own body against a wall while pronouncing each time some words which end up forming a complete text. His body is simultaneously matter and sound and visual material as well as an invisible shape that is hidden in the darkness in order to appear suddenly in a luminous flash. We do not know whether it is his body that produces the images that appear, or his voice that triggers the light, or the sound of his body against the wall that gives rise to this whole atmosphere. It is clear that an obvious link exists between the verbal, the vocal, the visual, and the corporeal, but after a while we realise that these elements lose focus and separate in order to recompose themselves and come apart again. The performance does not lie only in the installation that we are experiencing or in the film actions: it is also in our perception, which attempts to bring together what was swiftly disconnected and re-tie the thread of loose words. As in certain other works by Gary Hill, Wall Piece is a work that deals with dissociative perception and the way that we must associate the diverse elements of language, image and body in order for perception to exist.

Jacinto Lageira