'Who is an artist? Someone who paints a picture, writes a poem...? Why do we divide the artist from the rest of us?—or the intellectual from the rest of us?'
'He began to ask me questions, as though he had learned to remind himself to do so, and I wondered what or who had taught him that lesson, which many people never learn.'
—Rachel Cusk, Outline
In Attention Economy, Christine Hill's eighth solo exhibition with Galerie EIGEN + ART, we encounter an embedded facet of her work: the thinking process of the artist. The identity of today's artist has evolved over the past century into a tightly packaged tautology—the artist is the one who makes art. In Hill's case, the hand of the artist herself transforms any suitable subject or material into a work worthy of creative consideration.
Attention Economy manifests an inward turn within Hill's practice. For each of the 26 days that the exhibition is on view, Hill premieres two A4 drawings. Here, the artist focuses on a selection of timely reflections and ideas, displayed in sequence on a custom lectern that allows for careful study. Articulated in her signature drawing style and evocative of loose-leaf notebooks, these drawings tackle topics spanning the rarefied—literature, cultural heritage, politics, memory—to the quotidian—public radio commentary, interpersonal negotiations, household tasks, Netflix queues.
One by one, visitors ascend the lectern, directing their attention to a discreetly assembled registry of cultural concerns. While engaged in this intimate space, those at the lectern are simultaneously on display. Invoking both our blindly attentive interaction with screens and the unexpected space of performance this creates, the installation confronts visitors with Hill's extreme editing of the daily informational onslaught into the contemplative space of two drawings.
Over her nearly three decade long artistic career, Hill has developed an authorial position through the productive intermingling of art, life, and everything in between. Integrating a broad range of entrepreneurial models, performative formats, and apparently avocational everyday activities, Hill's evolving work encompasses many things apart from her so-called 'artistic practice.' Her large-scale, meticulously produced Organizational Ventures—environments situated within museums, public spaces, and private galleries—remain only the most iconic and well-known products of her creative process. Attention Economy reveals the cognitive labour that happens behind these exhibited works.
As the roles of artists and intellectuals in our time grow more ambiguous, Christine Hill encourages us to think anew about self-identity, complex ideas, and their everyday communication. The process of art making, she seems to suggests, is one of continuous learning. Let's see what we can learn from her along the way.
Courtesy Galerie EIGEN + ART. Text: Prem Krishnamurthy