16. November 2015

British artist Heather Phillipson transposes the SCHIRN's Rotunda into a surreal digital-physical chamber

Beginning November 20, 2015, the British artist Heather Phillipson will present her first solo show in Germany – an installation for the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt’s Rotunda. “EAT HERE”, her large-scale multimedia work, addresses the heart – as motif, metaphor and, above all, as biological imperative. 

Composed of suspended objects, printed images, pervasive audio and a dual-screen video, “EAT HERE” takes over the entirety of the Rotunda – coating its floor in spongy carpet, obstructing access across the space with an enormous, rotating styrofoam foot, and installing elevated observation platforms from which to view Phillipson’s video, an enquiry into the physiological heart and its clichéd, symbolic representations, projected in an endless loop.

Heather Phillipson, COMMISERATIONS!, 2-screen HD video, 2015, film still, image courtesy the artist

Supplemented by dangling drawings of spermatozoa, lightning and eyeballs, alongside real tennis rackets and balls, hot water bottles, stuffed waste-sacks and umbrellas, all suspended on red shock-cords that rise through the space, like blood vessels, to reach a buffeted whale windsock in the eaves, Phillipson’s video comes to operate as a central core – the heart of an entire, walk-in body.

Video plays a major role in Heather Phillipson’s works, which evolve as multi-faceted, part-digital, part-physical conglomerations, encompassing visual, oral and tactile elements. Phillipson, also an award-winning poet and trained musician, frequently deploys linguistic and compositional structures of enjambment, counterpoint and rhythm to destabilize or reorient representational space.

Heather Phillipson, EAT HERE, artist's collage/draft of the installation for Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, 2015, image courtesy the artist

Abandoning logic, and any fidelity to narrative, and replacing them instead with visual and aural poetic non-sequiturs, the artist’s interplays of words, images and objects invite us to reassess the seemingly banal or insignificant, using constant volleys of imaginative association to upset accepted visual, informational and conceptual constructs. Most striking, perhaps, is the bold, aesthetic appeal of the worlds the artist creates: walk-in montages of heterogeneous objects that highlight our constant proximity to the absurd. Phillipson seeks the maximum tension between things and ideas, developing tempi, momentum and neural jolts and, in so doing, ruptures schematic orders.

The artist Heather Phillipson (*1978, London) lives and works in London, UK.

Heather Phillipson, photographer: Ilaria Orsini 2015