Inconsolable: Animation Still Two pictured mountains seem to look at each other. They have both lost the wild aura that strikes respect into the climbers; in the art gallery they are subdued. Their nature pulled apart and redone, yes, for the art piece - one more way of staging the human struggle against nature: a magnificent peak stitched on a quilt: a 3D computer model of the Rocky Mountains’ Inconsolable Range . The mathematical three-dimensional embroidery unfolds into a TV screen whispering the winds natural voice. No explanation in nature, nor in language. A picture of Alban Berg hangs over the TV - an enigmatic young man looking lost in his thoughts, absent from the friendly room over which he towers (“Berg” mean mountain). Stories are offered to the visitors in a booklet and through Berg’s dodecaphonic music. Instead of sewing the installation’s separate parts in only one embroidery, the musical strings bring into being sounds of broken threads and a screeching seriousness that shudders all over.
Inconsolable: Berg Image
What is Inconsolable ? Romantic figments don’t really fit, but sadness is real in a dimension which is exquisitely intellectual. The mountain’s sublime, absolute enchantment crumbles into shrunken home-size images. Hilyard, a British artist who lives and works in Minnesota , has rewoven in an old-fashioned style visual symbols of which modernism and imperialism once bore the weight. Visitors can be easily beguiled by the verbal resonance of the title. The ambiguity is undeniable.
Hilyard may simulate in his artificial landscapes something that has been built so well in human minds - such as the utopia of natural perfection in modern civilization - that he still saves the majesty of traditional values. Nor is he stuck in the aesthetic of kitsch, or ironic duplication. Simulation and repetition might be the tools to cut traditional images out of their own history, recognizing their persistent aura in present life and their distance as well. But he also seems to say that only by remaking their morphological profile, whatever the technique, can we again start looking at them as if it was the first time. “If you look for the Infinite, follow the finitude in every direction” (Goethe). This the artist did by the use of fractals, computerized fast stitches. The installation space, despite or perhaps because of the obsessive accuracy transpiring through the single components, is rather disquieting.
Monument to Albert Camus
A sense of primitive hostility, of a world we are not able to control, comes through the cultural masks. We dominate representational techniques, not the world. In 1995 and 1996 Hilyard tried to express the inhuman secretions of the human mind, as Camus would say. He even built a Monument to Albert Camus placing a wolf’s head between the words, “Savoir Vivre”, in a 20 X 22 inch needlepoint piece. A Head Piece from 1995 was a wooden mask split in two halves like a nut, the human features inside each half covered with fur. Was he already making a fool of the romantic dreamer? Inconsolable does more than that: each part of the installation: quilt, 3D animation, picture, book, music, is the same story expressed in a different language. Language is the story, no explanation needed. Linguistic screens that mask and shape our mental habits are just what they are: objects. The artist seems to have built his separation; Inconsolable is the art work. Contradictions indeed make this installation come alive.
“Banality is a home. The quotidian is maternal. After a long incursion into grand poetry, a climb up the mountains of sublime aspiration, up the peaks of transcendence and occult, it’s wonderful, as wonderful as all that is hot in life, to return to the place where happy fools laugh and have a drink with them, to be a fool, just as God made us, happy with the universe given to us and leaving the rest to those who climb mountains just to do nothing up there.” (Fernando Pessoa)
Art Press ( Paris ), March 2003