Once art leaves its birth place and enters the public sphere it seeks dialogue and attention. In opposition, Nietzsche argued for a monological conception of art – one not seeking audience. When I visited Los Angeles artist Brennan Hill’s studio for the first time, I was struck by the language his visual work provoked, seeking both social exclusion and social inclusion. A 30″ x 40” painting titled Evolution hung on his studio wall. My interpretation of it was completely different than his, a difference due to my misperception of one of his three illustrated anime characters being female rather than male. This small but significant detail affected my entire interpretation of Hill’s painting. Its not at all unusual to have various interpretations of a work, but this exchange left me pondering another issue entirely. Does Art even need the Artist? Perhaps Hill left a white void around his characters in Evolution to create a separation between himself and the characters he depicts. And it is in that empty space that translation and clarification may occur.
Brennan Hill is a Los Angeles-based artist and musician whose videos, performances, and paintings have shown in galleries on the east and west coasts of the United States as well as in association with The Institute for New Feeling and Printed Matter’s Art Book Fairs. Hill’s work frequently takes its cues from the elegant indignation of the Dadaist movement with an interest in the formalisms and tropes of current pop culture. For the artist’s current exhibition, he begins with the premise that it is impossible to make an antisocial work of art. During the process of attempting to defy this idea, Hill arrives at the conclusion that this is, in fact, true. The failed attempts resulting from this experiment are what make up Social Sub-Sub-Genres; an exhibition comprised of three paintings, self-published books, and two single-channel videos.
In the post-mortem, one can draw comparisons between the personal vocabulary of Hill’s subject matter and the almost linguistic nuances found in the sub-genres of music and film. In the video entitled Backpeddler, appropriated footage from the documentary Chasing Ice has been married to a song recorded by the artist which falls within the boundaries of a sub-sub-genre known as ‘funeral doom metal’. As the largest glacier-separation ever filmed unfolds, colossal pieces of ice ascend, writhe, and sink to the almost comedically slow tempo of the specific doom metal strain that has been employed.
In short, Social Sub-Sub-Genres is about investigating the relationship between the social aspects of language and the seemingly anti-social isolation of a studio practice.