“this is the no thing that we are,” a new exhibition curated by UNDO Advisor Mathilde Walker-Billaud

(Krista Belle Stewart, Eye Eye. Installation view (Detail), Teck Gallery, 2018. Image: Blaine Campbel)

Mathilde Walker-Billaud, UNDO Advisor and curator of “What You Get Is What You See” has curated a new thesis exhibition titled “this is the no thing that we are” at Hessel Museum of Art, CCS Bard Galleries from April 7 – May 26, 2019.

Conceived as a conversation across time and cultures, this is the no thing that we are engages the work of Susan Hiller and Krista Belle Stewart, two artists belonging to different generations and nations but both using recording technologies and acts of transcription, to challenge Western systems of representation.

The title of the exhibition is derived from Susan Hiller’s book Sisters of Menon(1983), which captures a session of the artist’s automatic writing in France in 1972. 1 Blurring the boundaries between drawing and writing, utterance and speech, Hiller’s hand gestures transmit a plural and fragmentary female voice, fruitful in its incoherence. 2 The page becomes a site on which the forgotten and the omitted resurface and are inscribed.

Sisters of Menon will be featured next to an ambitious new commission by Krista Belle Stewart. The site-specific installation will be based on a wax cylinder recording, made by an anthropologist, of Stewart’s great-grandmother, Terese Kaimetko, singing in Syilx (Okanagan) during the early 1900s. Raising ethical questions about the conditions of exposure, disclosure and archiving of Indigenous knowledge, the artist will transform the object voice of her ancestor into a medium through which colonial histories of erasure and violence can be remembered and transmitted.

In this exhibition, the artists test diverse methods of transcription and translation to question and renew the way we document, interpret and remember human experiences. As a site of multiple and often hidden historical traces, artefacts become instruments of resistance and refusal through which voices of the silenced can be channelled.

  1. The original phrase is this is “the nothing that we are/”

  2. “Fruitful incoherence” is a phrase used by the artist to describe her practice. See Susan Hiller and Rozsika Parker. “Looking at New Work; an interview with Rozsika Parker (1983).” In Barbara Einzig ed. Thinking About Art, Conversations With Susan Hiller (Manchester:Manchester UP, 1996), p. 53.