Gary Hill (b. 1951, Santa Monica, CA) has worked with a broad range of media – including sculpture, sound, video, installation and performance – since the early 1970’s. His longtime work with intermedia continues to explore an array of issues ranging from the physicality of language, synesthesia and perceptual conundrums to ontological space and viewer interactivity. Exhibitions of his work have been presented at museums and institutions worldwide, including solo exhibitions at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Guggenheim Museum SoHo, New York; Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel; Museu d’Art Contemporani, Barcelona; and Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, among others. Commissioned projects include works for the Science Museum in London and the Seattle Central Public Library in Seattle, Washington, and an installation and performance work for the Coliseum and Temple of Venus and Rome in Italy. Hill has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations, and has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, most notably the Leone d’Oro Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale (1995), a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award (1998), the Kurt-Schwitters-Preis (2000), and honorary doctorates from The Academy of Fine Arts Poznan, Poland (2005) and Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, WA (2011).
1951 – 1968
Born April 4, 1951, in Santa Monica, California. Grows up in Redondo Beach, surfing and skateboarding. National skateboard champion in 1964; performs in the Cannes Film Festival-prize winner, Skaterdater. At 15 meets the artist Anthony Park, who encourages him to take up welding and sculpture. Takes first dose of LSD. Stepfather builds him a small studio in the backyard.
Moves to New York State and attends summer session at the Art Students League in Woodstock, New York. Supports himself with various odd jobs, mostly washing dishes.
1970 – 1972
Studies independently with the painter Bruce Dorfman. Encounters the work of composers La Monte Young and Terry Riley.
After seeing the “New York Painting and Sculpture 1940 – 1970” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, makes a series of mixed media constructions using copper coated steel welding rod, wire mesh, canvas and enamel. Experiments extensively with sound-generating steel rod constructions and electronically generated sounds.
First solo exhibition at the Polari Art Gallery in Woodstock, New York.
First experiments with video through Woodstock Community Video in Woodstock, New York. Assists with local cable TV in exchange for equipment use; becomes acquainted with the Videofreeks and Earthscore video groups in upstate New York.
Improvises sound-generating environmental constructions using industrial welding rods at the Woodstock Artists Association.
1973 – 1974
First group exhibition, “Artists from Upstate New York,” at 55 Mercer Gallery in New York City. Makes first video installation, Hole in the Wall, at the Woodstock Artists Association. Exhibits first videotapes at The Kitchen Center for Video and Music in New York.
1974 – 1976
Continues working with Woodstock Community Video as Artists TV Lab coordinator supported by the New York State Council on the Arts. Begins video work correlating image with sounds.
1974 – 1977
As artist-in-residence at the Experimental Television Center, Binghamton, New York, meets engineer Dave Jones.
Moves to Barrytown, New York, with Dave Jones and builds experimental video tools designed by Jones. Meets poets George Quasha and Charles Stein, who become long time friends and collaborators.
Creates first works dealing with the speaking voice in relation to the image. Receives a Production Grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, a Creative Artist Public Service Fellowship, and the first of four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships.
1979 – 1980
Moves to Buffalo, New York, and teaches at the Center for Media Study, State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo, New York. Meets Woody and Steina Vasulka, Paul Sharits, and Hollis Frampton.
First solo museum exhibition with the installation Mesh at the Everson Museum, Syracuse, New York.
Produces Soundings as artist-in-residence at WNET/Channel 13, New York. Also completes Around & About, Processual Video, and Black/White/Text, all focusing on the relationship between language and image.
Returns to Barrytown, New York and begins work on Primarily Speaking. Visits the West Coast for the summer and renews interest in surfing. Recipient of a Rockefeller Video Artist Fellowship.
1982 – 1983
Teaches at the summer graduate program at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Invited to the American Center in Paris for a videotape retrospective and meets Anne Angelini, who later performs in several works. Influenced by readings of Gregory Bateson’s Steps to an Ecology of Mind and John C. Lilly’s Center of the Cyclone and The Scientist.
Moves to Kamakura, Japan supported by a Japan/U.S. Exchange Fellowship and there marries Katherine Bourbonais (later separated). Returns to Barrytown, New York for the summer and produces Why Do Things get in a Muddle? (Come On Petunia) with his wife and Charles Stein performing.
Returns to Japan to live and work in Tokyo. Meets Kyogan Master Don Kenny who performs along with Kathy Bourbonais in URA ARU (the backside exists). As artist-in-residence at SONY in Hon Atsugi, completes the first edit of the work.
Moves to Seattle, Washington, and establishes a video program at Cornish College of the Arts.
Birth of daughter, Anastasia Yumeko Hill. First encounter with the writings of Maurice Blanchot, in particular Thomas the Obscure, which he draws upon for the installation In Situ.
Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California, and exhibits CRUX as a “performance installation” in the auditorium. Visiting artist at the California Institute for the Arts, Valencia, California.
Completes Incidence of Catastrophe, also inspired by Blanchot’s Thomas the Obscure, which receives first prize at the World Wide Video Festival in The Hague and at the Montreal Independent Film and Video Festival.
Travels to Paris for six months as a National Endowment for the Arts Exchange Fellow and is commissioned by the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou to produce a new work. In the first major collaboration with George Quasha, adapts selected Gnostic texts and eventually produces the installation Disturbance (among the jars). Meets Jacques Derrida, who plays a central figure in the piece.
Produces Site Recite (a prologue), commissioned for Spanish Television as part of the series “El Arte del Video.”
Exhibits the video installation series And Sat Down Beside Her at Galerie des Archives in Paris. Again, fragments of Blanchot’s writings appear, as well as Anne Angelini who performs for the work (reading in Thomas the Obscure). The Museum of Modern Art, New York, exhibits Inasmuch as It Is Always Already Taking Place.
Commissioned by La Sept of Paris for “Live,” a series of real time videotapes proposed by Phillipe Grandieux, and produces Solstice d’Hiver, a one hour real-time recording.
Commissions Dave Jones to design a computer-controlled video switcher for a number of “switch” pieces, the first being Between Cinema and a Hard Place. Meets artist Marine Hugonnier who later appears in Suspension of Disbelief (for Marine).
Returns to Paris as artist-in-residence at the L’Hôpital Éphémère.
Recipient of a second Guggenheim Fellowship.
Premieres the installation Tall Ships, commissioned by Jan Hoet for “Documenta IX.” First of several works in which his daughter, Anastasia, as well as other family members appear.
“Gary Hill,” first museum survey exhibition in Europe organized by the Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Travels to Valencia, Vienna, and Amsterdam.
Daughter reads Ludwig Wittgenstein for the installation Remarks On Color. “Imaging the Brain Closer than the Eyes,” an exhibition of recent works, is organized by the Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel, Switzerland.
1994 – 1995
“Gary Hill,” first museum survey exhibition in the United States organized by the Henry Art Gallery of the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. Travels to Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles and Kansas City.
Receives the Leone d’Oro Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale.
1996 – 1998
Produces Reflex Chamber, the first of a number of works to utilize strobe lights in conjunction with images and spoken text, followed by Midnight Crossing, commissioned by Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, Germany.
Collaborates with the choreographer Meg Stuart and her dance company ‘Damaged Goods’ to produce Splayed Mind Out. Performed more than 50 times in Europe, South America and the United States.
Recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award.
While artist-in-residence at the Capp Street Project in San Francisco, California, produces 23:59:59:29 – The Storyteller’s Room.
Collaborates with George Quasha and Charles Stein on the performance Spring from Undertime (Awaking Awaiting); with Christelle Fillod, producing sound for her performance Ship Building in a Kleinbottle; and with the Swedish artist Paulina Wallenberg-Olsson on the Black Performance, presented in Frankfurt, Paris, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
Receives the Kurt-Schwitters-Preis 2000 of the Niedersächsische Sparkassenstiftung, Hannover, Germany.
2000 – 2001
Receives the Joseph H. Hazen Rome Prize Fellowship and lives at the American Academy in Rome. While in residence produces Goats and Sheep, his first single-channel videotape since 1990, for the publication Gary Hill: Around & About: A Performative View, co-published by Éditions du Regard and Fabienne Leclerc of In Situ, Paris.
Commissioned by the Science Museum, London, and completes permanent installation of HanD HearD – Variation.
Following an artist-in-residency at La Compagnie in the Belsunce region of Marseille, France, completes the commissioned work, Accordions (The Belsunce Recordings, July 2001).
Resides primarily in Paris and teaches at École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, Paris, and Le Fresnoy Studio national des arts contemporains, Tourcoing, France (2003 – 05).
Receives the Skowhegan Medal for Video Installation
Following a two-week trip to a Yanomami village in Brazil, creates the commissioned work Impressions d’Afrique for the exhibition, “Yanomami: l’esprit de la forêt,” at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, France.
Collaborates with George Quasha on performances for the 10th Biennial of Moving Images, Saint-Gervais Genève, Switzerland, and at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana; and with Paulina Wallenberg-Olsson on the Black Performance in Taipei, Taiwan.
Completes permanent installation of Astronomy by Day (and other oxymorons) for the Seattle Central Public Library, Seattle, Washington.
Collaborates with George Quasha, Charles Stein, Aaron Miller, and Dorota Czerner on the performance, Mind on the Line, presented at various venues in Poland and the Czech Republic; and with Paulina Wallenberg-Olsson, Jean Luc Vilmouth and students on a performance for the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, Paris.
Recipient of the Honorary Degree of Doctor Honoris Causa of The Academy of Fine Arts Poznan, Poland.
Collaborates with Paulina Wallenberg-Olsson on the performance Image et language for the L’auditorium du Louvre, Paris, France.
Commissioned by the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma to produce Resounding Arches / Archi Risonanti, an installation of multiple projections with sound, for the Colosseum and Temple of Venus and Rome, which was the first contemporary art work to be created for the site. The event culminated with the performance, Dark Resonances, in collaboration with Paulina Wallenberg-Olsson and Charles Stein.
Produces Frustrum and Guilt for a solo exhibition of new work commissioned by the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, France.
Marries Magdalena Szczepaniak.
2008 – 2009
Commissioned by the Holland Festival to collaborate on the production of “Varèse 360°,” a two-night concert of the composer Edgard Varèse’s complete works, presented at the Westergasfabriek Gashouder, Amsterdam, and at Salle Pleyel, Paris, in 2009. Develops dramaturgy and develops and directs the visual component for the entirety of performance. Invites further collaboration with performers Christelle Fillod, George Quasha, Els Van Riel, and Charles Stein, and with costume design by Paulina Wallenberg-Olsson. The staging included live peformative events and a series of live and pre-recorded video projections on multiple projection screens, including rail sliding screens conceived by the artist.
Conceives and directs the performance The Mirror Points at the L’auditorium du Louvre, Paris, in collaboration with performers Olivier Cachin, Christelle Fillod, Paulina Wallenberg-Olsson and Christine de Smedt, and engineer Peter Brun.
Recipient of the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Fine Arts from Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, Washington.
Receives the Artist Trust 2011 Arts Innovator Special Recognition Award.
Recipient of The Stranger’s Genius Award for film.
Artist in Residence, Quartier 21/Tonspour, Vienna. Creates Child’s Play, a mixed media work incorporating 8 channels of sound, photographs and spoken text
Artist in Residence, Cazadoro, Mas d’Azil, France
Commissioned by La Foundation Nationale des Arts Graphiques et Platiques to produce, Feedback Path in the Grotte du Mas d’Azil, France.
Artist in Residence, Ecole Nationale Supérieure Photographie Arles, Arles, France
Directed Beethoven’s, Fidelio merging it with the science fiction epic poem, Aniara. The scenario takes place on an abstract space ship in which the characters are choreographed on Segways. The majority of the stage/scene was created from animations on multiple screens, most of which are in black and white. The work premiered at the Lyon Opera House with further performances at the Edinburg Festival.
Artist in residence at the Pilchuck Glass School. Unexpectedly develops a number of work incorporating glass including, Aloidia Piorm, Klein Bottle with the image of Its Own Making, Inasmuch As It Has ALready Taken Place and Untitled (Fat Boy & Little Man)
Birth of son, Anton Lumen Hill