Christopher Gill on Susan Hiller


Susan Hiller
witness 2000
biennale of sydney 2002

watch ! he is listening ! "had focused on our house, when we
passed by our house" a six year old boy stands in a moon lit
gallery, motionless & alone parentless but poised, a car- stereo
speaker "we realized that it could not be a meteorite not beneath
the clouds" denuded of its plastic cladding and attached to a
long length of sheathed "a blue white light" copper wire is
cupped to one ear, a serene babbling "a blue green illumination"
emanates from 599 other speakers, each uttering testimonies to
ufo sightings and alien "a few men dressed in silver" abduction,
cascade from a radial structure above. various other "my
telephone rang at 2 am" spectator bodies are arranged within
the installation, they too attach speakers "i was shocked to see a
huge rugby ball shining in the sky" to their ears, and like the six
year old they are calm and irrefutably present, their body
language "i was sitting in a tube, a vacuum tube" serene rather
than clutching "drove like mad back to the petrol station". the
configuration of the spectator citizens evoke "tell the media do
not panic we mean no harm" a sense of civic harmony rarely
experienced these days, in the early years of world war three "my
name is fred i don't want to give my surname". a mother and
daughter seem to dance "at the railway track i stopped to allow a
man leading a cow pass by" or rather frolic around the
installation as if killing off idle moments around a fountain in the
town square "followed all the way by the ufo". there is no time
here only order, a voluptuous young women enters giggles and
then leaves to fetch her boyfriend "the wife of the man leading the
cow" and while they listen "when i rang the police they said the
chief inspector had seen it" i notice the six year old has spirited
himself away. abducted ? "they did not stop" another man, older
but still young, sits "a bright orange illumination" in the corner,
outside the radius of the installation but not apart "a bright
orange illumination heading north . north east" on a wooden
chair vacated by the mesuem security guard, quietly watching
like an empowered citizen "i am very sure it wasn't a plane i've
never seen a plane act like that" drinking coffee, playing chess
as a sleeping baby in a pram is briefly abandoned "then it
reversed and dropped to the ground" by its nanny dead in the
center of the installation, and the baby wakes and she too
assumes the posture of self possessed citizenry "i could hear a
voice in my head a very clear voice" waiting there, without a trace
of anxiety for the nanny to pick her up. watch, she is listening!

Christopher Gill