HD, ‘post-Internet’, quick-fire-edit, cut-and- paste moving-image art can be so seductive that it’s easy to ignore the fact that in some cases the work does little more than reflect back, without comment, the complex ways in which we interact with the world. This doesn’t apply to the video installations and performances of Heather Phillipson. A mix of filmed footage, recorded narration and visual material sourced from the Internet, interspersed with her own live monologue, Phillipson’s integration of projected video and spoken word performance, or ‘talking pictures’, creates convoluted and often humorously self-deprecating narratives that ponder subjects drawn from high- and lowbrow culture, and personal and universal stories. Details of embarrassing situations and banal everyday chores are woven seamlessly with elements of art theory and philosophy.
Phillipson is a trained musician and poet as well as a visual artist (a new collection of her poems, Instant-flex 71, is published by Bloodaxe in April), factors evident in the treatment of sound, rhythm and voice in her videos, and in her playful, almost synaesthetic use of verbal and visual language, in which misunderstandings, misinterpretations and multiple meanings are recurring themes. Rather than simply mirror the fractured nature of the modern human condition, Phillipson’s work attempts to replicate something of what it feels like actually to experience it, in all its exhilarating, uncompromising, raw, gritty, sticky, squelchy, slippery, contradictory and perplexing glory. Phillipson has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in the UK and Europe, with upcoming events including a new commission for Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead in June and a solo presentation at Zabludowicz Collection in London this autumn as part of the series Zabludowicz Invites.
Originally published in the March 2013 issue