How many billboards?
Susan Silton
Photo: Gerard Smulevich

Susan Silton

Susan Silton's varied projects using photography, video, installation, and offset printing investigate both visual perception and the power of persuasion. Her images draw attention to both the disorienting quality of motion and the desire for stasis in such a way that she is able to challenge viewers' assumptions about what they perceive and how they might categorize what they see. To do this, the artist uses blurring, distortion, repetition, and finely calibrated color combinations. Recently her investigations of the history and politics of stripes, with their varied associations ranging from military uniforms to minimalist paintings, have yielded a large series of printed works.

For How Many Billboards?, she has composed a dazzling array of colors within the regimented format of perfectly measured vertical stripes. This minimalist composition of thin bands of color, punctuated by repeated uses of bright yellow and blue, provides such an appealing chromatic display that the viewer may not at first see the large text that appears to float both behind and within the striped space. The phrase embedded within the candy-colored bars is "IF I SAY SO." Printed in all capital letters in a sans serif font, both the format and content of the text communicate the forceful presumption of an unseen speaker. "IF I SAY SO" is an excerpt from a 1961 telegram sent by artist Robert Rauschenberg. Rauschenberg had been invited to participate in an exhibition of portraits of gallerist Iris Clert. His contribution was a telegram that read: "This is a portrait of Iris Clert if I say so." Regardless of its specific source, Silton's text points to the persuasive power of the authoritative voice, especially when it utilizes the spectacular scale of the billboard.
By Lisa Henry

LOCATION: La Cienega Blvd, north of Rodeo Rd, on the west side of the street, facing south.
METRO: La Cienega Blvd. Metro Bus 105, 705. Jefferson Blvd. Metro Bus 38
View How Many Billboards? in a larger map

Susan Silton (b. 1956)
Susan Silton is a Los Angeles-based, multidisciplinary artist whose work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions internationally, including at SolwayJones, Los Angeles; SITE Santa Fe; Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; and Allanz Zeignierderiassung, Berlin. Her work investigates how perception is shaped and distorted by spin, consumerism, and the weight of history, identity, and information overload. She incorporates photographic-based processes, video, installation, performative works, and offset lithography, collectively and variously, to reconsider, complicate, and subvert interpretation, especially as it relates to subjectivity.

© MAK Center for Art and Architecture | Terms of Use