Winner of the 2010 Baloise Art Prize, Claire Hooper, exhibits at mumok in Vienna

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Winner of the 2010 Baloise Art Prize, Claire Hooper, exhibits at mumok in Vienna
Claire Hooper, Nyx, 2010. Filmstill. Foto: Claire Hooper © Claire Hooper.

VIENNA.- Claire Hooper is the winner of the 2010 Baloise Art Prize. At mumok she is presenting her prize-winning video Video Nyx (2010), as part of a trilogy which also includes two works from 2011, Aoide and Eris. In her films, the British artist (born 1978) interweaves narratives from the present with characters and concepts from Greek mythology. These become elements of a kaleidoscopic mélange of reality and fiction, in which Hooper, in the manner of a Nouveau Roman, also dispenses with the linear succession of past, present and future.

Nyx, 2010
Nyx, named after the goddess of the night, takes its viewers on the psychedelic journey of the young man Furat. He cannot understand why he is intoxicated after ‘just two beers’, and his nocturnal U-Bahn journey home turns into a trip through the underworld. The film is set in the stations of U-Bahn line 7, designed by Rainer Rümmler between 1971 and 1984, along the route between Neukölln, the Turkish neighbourhood of Berlin – and Spandau. Hooper had already filmed the imaginative architecture of these underground stations with their many art deco and oriental style details in 2008 in her video Nach Spandau, where she almost voyeuristically pictured the stations one by one at night and mainly empty. In Nyx they become the scene of Furat’s journey, which begins with an encounter with Thanatos, the god of peaceful death, his twin brother Hypnos, the god of sleep, and the latter’s wife Pasithea, goddess of hallucination. In the course of his journey the young man meets many more mythical figures of the night, all in contemporary dress, including Eris, the goddess of strife and discord, and her children, among them the goddesses of oaths, falsehoods and ruin. At first Furat thinks that the oracle god Morpheus, who is responsible for the appearance of people in dreams, is his mother warning him of the dangers of the night, as do Nemesis, the goddess of justful revenge, and the Erinyes, the goddesses of retribution, who here appear like R & B stars in music videos. Intermingled with the flow of Furat’s experiences and visions are the ritual slaughter of a goat in a Kurdish village and the bas-relief battle scenes of the Pergamon altar – as a relic of the culture of his ancestors, kept in Berlin. Philotes, the goddess of friendship and also a creature of the night, finally brings Furat’s odyssey to an end, accompanying him out of the subterranean depths back into the pulsating life of the metropolis Berlin.

Aolde, 2011
A non-linear interweaving of the present and memory, as the basis of a construction of a past and history, is also a feature of Aoide, named after the muse of the finished poem. The film was made in 2011 in and for the Munich exhibition space Lothringer_13, in which in 1981 Claire’s father, the painter John Hooper, had shown his geometrical abstract paintings, as one of nine English painters in a group show. For her own presentation in the same place, his daughter had her father’s pictures brought back there and staged their hanging as a way of examining her own past and also that of her father and the art gallery. By including the figure of a poet and his muses, she linked this with a complex reflection on the relationship between art and truth.

Eris, 2011
With Eris, goddess of strife and discord, Hooper includes in her most recent film a character who had already appeared in Nyx. The framework this time is the story of Danielle, who was a child of very young parents who were living in a children’s home when she was born. She herself became pregnant at the age of 15, and her first son was listed as at risk by the social department even before he was born. The mother’s struggle for custody of her son poses the question as to the possibilities of selfdetermination in the entanglement of fate, embodied here by social workers. The latter are also personifications of the classical goddesses of destiny who stand for the inextricable givens in the life of each individual: Klotho, who spins the thread of life, Lachesis, who measures and allocates it, and Atropos, who cuts it again.

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