Claire Hooper’s watercolour works on paper employ the medium through a process of layering and revealing, exploring tonal shifts arising from the transparency and interaction of pigments. In several works from 2020, such as Profundo Verde, Hooper employs the format of a diptych that can be assembled in two different arrangements. This system, in which the work can be turned around on itself, playfully explores the possibilities between choice and constraint.
Clay as Bread and Dust as Wine, 2016, explores the Mesopotamian myth ‘The Descent of Innana to the Underworld’. The large-scale, site-specific installation brings to life an imagined temple to the goddess Ereshkigal, at Kutha in Northern Iraq. Though recognised by successive generations of Sumerian, Assyrian and Aramaic cultures to be the entrance to the underworld, this site has so far eluded archaeologists. Hooper’s installation alludes to columns, entryways and decorative wall panels, while never offering a complete image of the structure. They imagine the whole through fragments, while suggesting the emergence of new meaning and purpose through these very fragments.
In Claire Hooper’s moving image works, the British tradition of documentary encounters elements deriving from Greek mythology. Her epic films focus on figures in precarious social circumstances and their entanglement in restrictive systems. These contemporary narratives negotiate collective social situations with parable-like, mythological enhancement. Interchangeable elements from everyday life, recorded in the narrative fashion of documentary footage, are charged with theatrical passages in which performance appears as an incursion into reality.
Nyx, 2010, which is named after the goddess of night, follows a young Kurdish man in the Berlin subway who returns home after a long night. In a state of delirium, the young man encounters the figure of Thanatos, the god of death, his twin brother Hypnos, the god of sleep, as well as Pasithea, the goddess of relaxation and hallucination. Numerous cultural conflicts arise in these encounters on the subway, which seemingly mutate into a kind of underworld.
Exhibitions at Hollybush Gardens
Claire Hooper: NYX
17 – 26 September 2010
Claire Hooper: Nach Spandau
21 November – 21 December 2008
26 January – 12 March 2006
Interview by Ian Hunt, Flash Art, March 2016
Claire Hooper: Clay as Bread and Dust as Wine
By Caroline Douglas, Contemporary Art Society, February 2016
Claire Hooper’s ‘Eris: The Path of ER’
By Thomas Morgon Evans, LUX Biennial of Moving Images Journal, May 2012
Claire Hooper: NIX AOIDE ERIS
Mumok catalogue, November 2011
Review: Claire Hooper at Hollybush Gardens, London
By Gilda Williams, Artforum, March 2009
By Martin Herbert, ArtReview, December 2007
Review: Claire Hooper, Victim, Zazie Press
By Sally O’Reilly, Art Monthly, March 2006
Claire Hooper (born 1978, UK) lives and works in London.
Recent solo exhibitions include Claire Hooper, The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, 2016; She Knocked Aggressively at The Door, She Shouted Aggressively at the Gate, ANDOR Gallery, London, 2016; Clay as Bread and Dust as Wine, Hollybush Gardens, London, 2016; Fig 2, no. 7, ICA studio, London, 2015 (in collaboration with Maria Loboda); Ziggurat, Edel Assanti, London, 2015; Claire Hooper, Bonner Kunstverein, Germany, 2014; and Claire Hooper, Vanity Projects, New York, 2013. Group exhibitions include The Mardin Biennale, Turkey, 2015; Regional, International and Extra Terrestrial, Mars Gallery, Los Angeles, 2015; Songs of the Swamp, WUK, Vienna, 2011; New Narrative, Digital Arts Centre, Taipei, 2011; and Koln Kunstfilm Biennale, Kunstwerke, Berlin, 2010. Screenings of her work have been presented internationally, including at International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Netherlands; MUMOK, Vienna; ICA, London; The Serpentine Cinema, London; Whitechapel Gallery, London; and Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival, Berwick-upon-Tweed, UK. Hooper has contributed costume and styling to the film works of Paul Simon Richards, including Quasi-Monte Carlo (2019), L*a*b (2016), and ∆ HS. FS. ZWN-BS. NC. BS (2015). Hooper was awarded the Baloise Art Prize in 2010, presenting her video Nyx (2010) at Art Basel’s Art Statements that year.