Book of the Dead

Hills Snyder

Exhibition: Jul 7 – Sep 11, 2005

Snyder’s art often requires intellectual investment and sometimes compels psychological surrender. In Book of the Dead, visitors must check their preconceptions at the gallery door to uncover multiple layers of meaning concealed within spaces, objects, images, and texts. With its easy chairs and ominous instruments of execution, among other things, this installation envelops viewers in an uncanny experience of terror, wonder, and bliss.

Upon entering a darkened space through an elliptical portal, visitors are invited to lie back, relax, and bask beneath the sublime glow of a video lunette. Through the next passage, another, more sinister seat awaits; eerie black lighting floods the chair from above and below, while text commanding visitors to “stay” presents a double bind close to the hearts of many Texans. Before emerging from the darkness into the lights, sounds, and comforts of the ordinary, participants must chart their own paths through a nebulous space akin to limbo.

Rather than merely altering an existing environment, in this project Snyder constructs experience. Themes of life, death, hope, longing, rebirth, and redemption interweave with the artist’s recurring emphasis on participants’ positions of moral, social, and personal responsibility. With Book of the Dead, Snyder invites visitors to consider art, like life and eventually death, as a multi-faceted, labyrinthine journey with surprises tucked around every turn.

-Vanessa Davidson

Graduate Curatorial Intern

Book of the Dead (Opening night)


Hills Snyder

San Antonio, Texas, USA

Hills Snyder explores history and myth through installations that playfully combine arcane and pop cultural references. Snyder’s propensity for punning, coupled with his interest in means of making sense (and nonsense), infuse his work with insights that transcend everyday ironies to touch on universal themes.
Evoking associations that are as often literary, philosophical, or religious as they are political or art historical, Snyder’s projects expose hidden meanings in familiar images. Intrigued by the post-9/11 proliferation of patriotic symbols, Snyder spliced the striped portions of three US flags to create Ridge and Furrow (2003), whose title is an etymological play on the word delirium (from the Latin delirare, literally, “to go off the furrow”). His earlier Back to Basics (2001), a red, yellow, and blue acrylic guillotine, injects menacing undertones into modernism’s palette of primary colors. Sometimes cryptic but always good-humored, Snyder’s works generate narratives that ricochet off one another like reflections in a hall of mirrors.
Born in Lubbock, TX, in 1950, Hills Snyder currently resides in Helotes. Solo shows include Fresh Up Club, Austin, TX (2004); Angstrom Gallery, Dallas, TX (2001); and Casino Luxembourg, Forum d’art contemporain, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg (1998). Group shows include McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Dallas, TX (2004); Pearl, London, England (2001); and Lombard-Fried Fine Arts, New York, NY (2000).

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Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro

Austin, Texas, USA

Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro was born in Spain and educated in Britain, where he received a PhD in Art History and Theory from the University of Essex, England in 1996. Since 2002 he has served as the Curator of Latin American Art at the Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin, where he recently curated Lo feo de este mundo: Images of the Grotesque. Previously, he served as the Director of Visual Arts at the Americas Society, New York, NY and while there organized projects with Iran do Espirito Santo, Rivane Neuenschwander, Lygia Pape, Geraldo de Barros, and others. Prior to his appointment in New York, Pérez- Barreiro worked at the Casa de América in Madrid, Spain.

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