Curator‘s Comments

In a distinguished international career of more than thirty years, Susan Hiller has often been called “an artist’s artist” who creates innovative works across a range of media, from installation and video art to photography, performance, and writing. A 1961 graduate of Smith College, Hiller pursued a doctorate in anthropology, but became critical of academic anthropology’s claims to scientific objectivity and left the field to become an artist. Her work demonstrates an acute awareness of art-historical movements, especially Surrealism, Minimalism, and conceptual art. It also references cultural phenomena from Punch and Judy to Freud, from Mendelian genetics to UFO sightings. In The Last Silent Movie, an installation consisting of a single-projection video with a suite of twenty-four etchings, the screen remains black throughout except for subtitles and captions that translate the words of speakers of lost or endangered languages, which the artist culled from sound recordings in archives around the world. This work, which both embodies and criticizes forms of anthropological research, encapsulates many of Hiller’s investigations. It speaks not only to the disappearance of language, people, and culture, but also to the power relations that have made those disappearances possible.

The Last Silent Movie

Susan Hiller. USA, Lives and works in London, born 1940

The Last Silent Movie, 2008

Installation with single-channel video and portfolio of 24 etchings on 270 gsm. Moulin de Gué (Rives de Lin) paper

Edition 3 + 1 AP

Purchased with the Janet Wright Ketcham, class of 1953, Fund

ID Number: SC 2010:26-1 th 26