1986 Hilliard
1986 Hilliard



View of the site-specific installation. Photo: Joerg Burger

John Hilliard
o. T.


Photo installation

Photographic print on woven carpet (floor) and on fabric wallpaper (ceiling)

Size: each 504 x 271 cm

Room dimensions: 605 x 365 x 380 cm

Design 1984/85, execution 1986

Room: north wing, 1st floor

The invitation to JOHN HILLIARD to create a site-specific work for Buchberg Castle inspired the artist to realise a new kind of photographic juxtaposition. Starting from the specific, existing spatial setting, he decided to position one photograph on the ceiling and one on the floor: the ceiling’s existing stucco framing reminded him of the place for ceiling paintings ‒ and the carpet arose as a counterpart. Not only the vis-à-vis of the two parts of the room envisaged for the pictures, but also the different photograph surfaces afforded by modern technology made the ceiling picture appear to mirror that on the floor: this situation ‒ he himself calls it ‘paradoxical’ ‒ which differs so materially from the customary ‘opposition’ between photographer and object, the horizontally aimed gaze, reminded the artist of a picture by the fashion photographer Helmut Newton, who took a photograph of his reflection in the ceiling mirror while stretched out on the bed with a naked woman lying on top of him in a brothel in Paris. HILLIARD ‘re-enacted’ this setting. Yet the apparent duplication of the picture changes the entire statement made by the piece. Only at first glance is the viewer beguiled into thinking it is a reflection of the photograph. In fact, two photographs were produced in the same instant, one by the camera of the ‘voyeur’, a second by a camera affixed above the reflected ceiling. HILLIARD intentionally integrated clues to this production method in the two photographs. As a result, not only is the role of the observer behind the camera relativized, who themselves are being ‘observed’, but also that of the ‘victim’, i.e. the person opposite: while the woman is the victim of male voyeurism in the mirror image, in the scene on the floor it is the man who instead appears to be the ‘victim’ of an attack by the woman. This alternative possible interpretation also implies a reversal of Helmut Newton’s attitude.

JOHN HILLIARD picks up on Dieter Bogner’s wording when he says he wants to achieve a ‘balance of formal aspects and content’. In point of fact, the installation signifies a new aspect both for Buchberg and for HILLIARD: photography is included in the castle for the first time here, and with it the emphasis of purely formal and abstract structures in the spatial designs is eschewed in favour of theoretical interpretations.

(Excerpt from a text by Monika Faber, in: JOHN HILLIARD RAUMKONZEPT BUCHBERG VI, 1989)

First presentation in the context of the Buchberger Sommer 1986 [Buchberg Summer 1986]

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