Thuistezien 204 — 13.03.2021

Gary Hill, George Quasha & Charles Stein
Three Ways at Once II

Gary Hill, born April 4, 1951, in Santa Monica, California, grew up in Redondo Beach, surfing and skateboarding. He became national skateboard champion in 1964 culminating in a role in the Cannes Film Festival-prize winner, ‘Skaterdater’. At 15 he met the artist Anthony Park, who encourages him to take up welding and sculpture. In 1969, he moved to New York State to attend the Art Students League in Woodstock, New York while supporting himself with various odd jobs, mostly washing dishes. Since then he has continued to produce and experiment with different mediums and art all around the world with ever growing notoriety and acclaim. During his time in New York, he met fellow artists George Quasha and Charles Stein who became life-long friends and associates. Quasha, whose awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry, and Stein, a Ph.D. in literature from the University of Connecticut at Storrs, have, amongst a plethora of work, also conducted a collaborative study of the work of ‘Gary Hill, An Art of Limina: Gary Hill's Works & Writings, Ediciones Poligraf’.

West invited Gary Hill, George Quasha, & Charles Stein to do a live performance (April 14th, 2018) in the library of the former American Embassy of the Netherlands, now the Alphabetum of West Den Haag With one week of collaborative preparation, the three old friends came up with the site specific multimedia performance appropriately named ‘Three Ways At Once (I Don’t Understand Language)’. This performance was recently featured by Thuistezien #171 and is something I would highly encourage everyone to watch along with this panel discussion, moderated by Baruch Gottlieb, between the artists and the audience directly after the performance.

Experience the experience of explaining the experience that was just experienced, ‘Three Ways At Once (I don’t understand Language)’, a performance fundamentally based on the difficulty of explaining, at least linguistically, the experience of being, truly. Not only for the self, but especially when transmitted from one conscience to another. The problem with definitions, personal or academic, is that these definitions become our biases which then define our expectations, judgement, and ultimately our actions. What something is, restricts it to be what it is, even if the only truth everyone can truly agree on is that it is. ‘Things are intrinsically free in their nature if they allow themselves to discover that,’ as Quasha states.

Definitions and properties of matter are useful when dealing in the contemporary alchemy we define as science. However, in the realm of art, spirituality, or consciousness, these definitions overtly, as well as, subliminally inhibit artistic freedom and potential. One interesting example of this, brought up by Quasha during this talk, is what he refers to as the ‘new wilderness’, the error-field for new, emerging, and developing technologies; an uncharted plane of possibility, rife for artistic exploitation in a certain counter technological axis. This conversation, using language, tries to express the inadequacy of language to convey what it means to be, in this or any moment, and yet it is our human fate to have an inner voice that will do so anyway. This organic conversation is a wonderful peek into the minds of three brilliant artists and their passionate, albeit fleeting, pursuit of expression and the conundrum that defying defining one’s being, being defined, and defining being… is and will always be.

Text: Hendrik Hohlfeld