Nan Hoover 1974–1975

The video compilation from 1974–1975 consists of three videos: Conversations, Enclosures, and Light Pieces. Conversations is probably the earliest and definitely the least well-known of the three. It contains six sequences, each accompanied by different sounds that range from humming voices to an alarm clock ringing. At the beginning we see a loosely configured ball of thread. Fingertips begin to pull playfully at threads in the ball. Both a painted male profile on the left and a double female profile (one painted, one live) on the right appear, partially obscured by the movement of the live person’s moving arm in front of the camera. The alarm clock ringing in Conversations is repeated at the onset of the second video piece in the compilation, Enclosures from 1974. The person of the artist is unidentifiable, while the miming of expressive gestures, the materiality of props (for instance white Bristol board), and the role of light dominate the performance. Light Pieces (1975) begins with the artist dressed in white; later she is standing in front of a white background wearing black. Her changing movements catch and modulate light and picture detail, offering the viewer varying perspectives. The sound of running water is incongruous and disconcerting. A close-up shows her face in dark surroundings; slowly the fingers move up the side of the face and conceal the profile. While Conversations and Enclosures display expressive and mimicry effects, Light Pieces already points to the subtle nuances Nan Hoover’s later work will show. Both Enclosures and Light Pieces were the subject of the first catalogue devoted to her video work. Hoover explains her video practice and her intended effect as follows: “When I move very slowly in the light, my body becomes an abstract image by means of light nuances. Gradually the abstract image takes on body. The image results in a body. The picture emerges from the references between abstraction and body, nature and body, body and landscape.”