ROSANNA ALBERTINI about HILJA KEADING
“Well, daily life little by little becomes a thing in which there is space for hope.” (Ludwig Wittgenstein)
© HILJA KEADING
Amazing Grace, Single Channel Video, 1978, Length 6:03
A twelve year old Hilja, legs already long for her age, swings her new little radio on a chain. Music fills her body down the gravel road. The radio is red. “Feelin’ groovy,” she sings, “ Ba da, Ba da, Ba da, Ba da, / All is groovy.” The night of her 50th birthday, as she turns the radio on in the kitchen, Simon and Garfunkel’s voices unexpectedly sing in the room: “Slow down, you move too fast.” How many lives did Hilja Keading expand into, after that walk on the gravel, is hard to say.
At least a hundred lives. All the lives an artist needs to grow out, they are leaves of the same bush. Art picks you, one of her teachers told Hilja. It doesn’t work by decision. Then, would art be a matter of persistence? Stripping life from illusion. Filling art with truth. Keading became a maker of stories. Made with time and sounds, they don’t last. That’s the secret, maybe. Her stories don’t have to last, don’t have to be revealed. They tell us they exist behind silence or noise, behind the image of a smiling ten years old girl who lost her front teeth, still like a statue except for the fluttering of the collar near her neck.
Experience comes first, facts are erased along with their noisy flags announcing evidence, rather than truth. Keading pushes us to feel her invisible, intangible and distinctive truth, and to give up with easy explanations. There are none. Sounds and images touching us for opposite reasons, bring a phantom within, a cloud of wonder which is the major claim for every human being. Myth or soul, maybe they are the same thing: fleeting, ungraspable unless one image calls for them:
HONEY IN THE HANDS-CUP DRIPS THROUGH THE FINGERS, WITH DEAD FLIES TRAPPED INTO THE SWEETNESS
fingers trying to brush something away from the collar bones, something prisoner in the chest
A NAKED WOMAN CROUCHED ON HER KNEES PICKS UP HANDFULS OF BROKEN GLASS FROM THE FLOOR
naked fingers hold a dead bird,
then they drop it, and start shaking like
feathers while a piercing bird voice
speaks a very loud mocking song.
“Experience is all-absorbing, subordinating observed fact, drowning even truth itself, if truth is conceived of as something apart from impulse and instinct and from the will.” (W.B. Yeats)