Nan Hoover

Prior to dedicating herself to video, performance, and photography, in 1973 Hoover practiced painting and drawing. This exquisitely “pictorial” approach to images has remained a fundamental component in her videos.
Over the years, and parallel to her exhibition activity, she has created an extensive and variegated body of performances in galleries, museums, and theaters, thereby acquiring a more complete understanding of space through “silence, concentration, and discipline.”
A highly sensitive and tactile concern for forms is evident throughout Hoover’s work, though it remains principally immaterial. With her meticulous care for the intensity of light, color, and minimal movements, over the years she has developed an extraordinary ability to produce visual compositions in which the association of images manages to create true external and internal landscapes. On more than one occasion Hoover has explained she loves “the transparency and luminosity in video.” In exploring the subtle ambiguities of visual perception, she has analyzed the forcefully evocative tension that exists between abstraction and reality, fluidly intervening amidst the play of controlled light. Often created using a fixed, immobile video camera, these rapt, meditative, and dreamlike portraits are executed in real time.
Slight movements of parts of a body and subtle changes of weather within the landscapes recorded out in the open create true orchestrations that are carefully modulated with light. The resulting atmosphere induces viewers to lose the cognition of what is observed. After her studies, she moved to Amsterdam in 1969 and later became a Dutch citizen. In recent years, she has grown increasingly interested in the creation of public installations made with light, responding to commissions by cities and museums mainly in Germany and Holland. [F.B.]

List of Works

Selected Works II, 1983–1985
video, color, sound, 50 min. 51 sec.
Purchased with the contribution of the Compagnia di San Paolo
Landscape, 1983
video, color, sound, 5 min. 42 sec.
A hand placed in front of the video camera is transformed into a landscape thanks to light effects and changes of scale. Reality and illusion accompany each other in this up-close exploration.
Halfsleep, 1984
video, color, sound, 16 min. 43 sec.
With the help of a macroscopic lens and slow shooting, the artist’s attention is totally addressed to examining the details of the surface of her face. A dramatic texture of weavings and lights is the result.
Eye Watching, 1984
video, color, sound, 7 min. 22 sec.
An extreme close-up of an observing eye is coupled with greatly amplified surrounding sounds. In concentrating on the act of looking, Hoover develops an extraordinary study on the properties of human vision, focusing on how and to what degree the eye responds to the passing of shadows, lights, and even sounds.
Returning to Fuji, 1984
video, color, sound, 8 min. 21 sec.
The appearance and perception of the famous mountain are blurred in an atmosphere of gray-violet mists, accompanied by gradual transformations of the intensity of the light and shadow and by evocative sounds.
Desert, 1985
video, color, silent, 12 min. 43 sec.
Played out entirely by using shades of deep red and ocher, this work evokes a desert landscape in which the variations of light and color refer to the day’s cycle.

Watching Out – A Trilogy
, 1985–1986
video, black and white, color, silent, 22 min. 11 sec.
Purchased with the contribution of the Compagnia di San Paolo
Flora, 1985
video, color, silent, 9 min. 11 sec.
With reference to the essential and refined composition of Georgia O’Keeffe paintings, this video describes the forms of a flower’s petals, focusing on the transformations also given by the minimum changes of light.
Watching Out – A Trilogy, 1986
video, black and white, silent, 13 min.
This trilogy with its strong contrasts and chiaroscuro shows close-ups of a woman with fadings that distance and draw the work near to forms of visual abstraction. The gaze of the portrayed woman remains directed off-screen, thus testifying to a dimension of mysterious and enigmatic isolation.

Wigry, Poland / Blue Mountains, Australia, 1988–1989
video, color, black and white, sound 13 min. 06 sec.
Purchased with the contribution of the Compagnia di San Paolo
Wigry, Poland, 1989
video, color, sound, 6 min. 50 sec.
This study of reflections of light and shadow on water is accompanied by the sounds of trickling water. The monochrome atmosphere suggests a mysterious, almost abstract painting.
Blue Mountains, Australia, 1988
video, color, sound, 6 min. 16 sec.
The landscape depicted in Blue Mountains stands out immobile and the image gradually comes to a stop while the sound continues.