Gary Hill & Gerry Judah - New Show At The Louise T Blouin Institute

By Rose Shillito | 20 June 2007
Photo shows white model of buildings in state of destruction

Gerry Judah, Untitled (2006). Photograph courtesy of Todd White

A powerful and provocative exhibition comprising new solo shows by Gary Hill and Gerry Judah, looks set to keep the burning issues of global politics and environmental disaster ablaze for some time to come.

The Gary Hill and Gerry Judah exhibition will run at the Louise T Blouin Institute in London until August 26 2007, and features brand-new work by the two artists which has never before been shown in this country.

Internationally renowned US artist Gary Hill, one of the pioneers and forerunners of video art, has taken over the entire ground floor of the gallery with two impressive works.

Guilt (2006) is an intriguing installation comprising a series of oversized rotating gold coins that bear the artist’s brutalised face. The coins are viewed by telescopes mounted on plinths and the work is accompanied by a provocative voiceover by the artist.

Photo shows coin mounted on column in foerground with plinths in background

Gary Hill, Guilt (2006). Photograph courtesy of Patrick Gries

Clearly a reference to the ways in which money can dehumanise and corrupt, this installation evokes a sense of outrage and sorrow about how money should not be able to buy people or their souls – yet it can and does.

The telescope symbolises the eye that is open and ready to see what we’d normally filter out with our tunnel vision. Hill is perhaps likening the role of the telescope to the role of art itself – a device for highlighting and blowing up the darker and more uncomfortable sides of human nature.

The destructive side of capitalism is further explored in the video installation Frustrum (2006). Here, in a darkened room, a virtual gigantic eagle furiously beats its wings to escape from an electric pylon and the sound of a cracking whip.

Its desperate and futile struggle is reflected in a ten-metre tank of oil that contains a half-submerged gold ingot. Inscribed on the ingot are the words: “For everything which is visible is a copy of that which is hidden.”

The eagle symbol works on two levels – it is both king of birds and that icon of capitalism, America. As such the work evokes a sense of the price we pay for commercial gain at the expense of our greatest assest: mother Earth. More worrying still, does the half-submerged ingot imagery indicate that the destruction we see is only the tip of the iceberg?

Photo shows white model of buildings in state of destruction

Gerry Judah, Untitled (2006). Photograph courtesy of Todd White

Gerry Judah, a newly emerged UK artist, has created eight new works for the show that push the boundary between painting and sculpture. Juddah’s white landscapes are inspired by the Iraq War and the war zones of the Middle East, and feature collages of miniature buildings in various states of destruction to represent the violence and futility of human conflict.

On first glance, these pristine white landscapes seem to exude a sense of reassuring sterility, stillness and calm. It’s only on closer inspection that the full horror of these aerial views of decimated human settlements hits home.

But rather than stripping out emotion, Judah's use of white acrylic gesso to build up the constructed layers only serves to intensify the emotional experience. These bombsites become generic scenes of devastation. They could be anywhere in the world, could represent the lost lives of people we have loved. They stand in silent witness to our collective irresponsibility.

These evocative works from two very different – yet equally exciting – artists invite us to question our own humanity. They urge us to look at our global relationships and implore us to seek ways to save our planet from ourselves, before it’s too late.

The exhibition is supported by an extensive programme of lectures and public events.

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