Hillerbrand+Magsamen are interdisciplinary artists who create sculpture, installation, performance, video and photographic works to explore their relationships to each other and society with an uncanny sensibility that merges the real and unreal, blurring boundaries between life and art. Often including their two children, Madeleine and Emmett in their work, the family critiques and playfully scrutinizes consumerism and family life with an experimental approach. Hillerbrand+Magsamen have presented their videos in international film and media festivals including Houston Cinema Arts Festival, London SciFi Film Festival, WAND V Stuttgarter Filmwinter, New York Underground Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Boston Underground Film Festival and MonkeyTown. Their cinematic based installations have been exhibited at the Everson Museum (Syracuse, NY), Center for Photography Woodstock (Woodstock, NY), Diffusion Photography Festival (Wales, UK) and Houston Center for Photography (Houston, TX). They have received grants from Sustainable Arts Foundation, Austin Film Society, Experimental Television Center, Ohio Arts Council, Houston Arts Alliance and Houston Center for Photography. Their project HIGHER GROUND was a commission from the Houston Airport System and received 1st prize from juror Richard Linklater in the CineSpace program at the Houston Cinema Arts Festival. Hillerbrand+Magsamen have participated in residency programs including: I-Park (East Haddam, CT), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (New York, NY), Experimental Television Center (Owego, NY), Elsewhere (Greensboro, NC), Santa Fe Art Institute (Santa Fe, NM). Stephan Hillerbrand is a recipient of two Fulbright Fellowships (Germany) and MacDowell Colony (Peterborough, NH) residency. Mary and Stephan live and work in Houston with their two children, Madeleine and Emmett.
As the collaborative husband-wife team of Hillerbrand+Magsamen, we are interdisciplinary artists who create sculpture, installation, performance, video and photographic works to explore our relationships to each other and society with an uncanny sensibility that merges the real and unreal, blurring boundaries between life and art. Many of our works take place in and literally take apart our home. Often including our two children, Madeleine and Emmett in our work, we critique and playfully scrutinize consumerism and family life with an experimental approach. We draw upon the Fluxus practice of incorporating humor, performance, video and everyday objects in order to have a conversation about family dynamics, suburban life and American consumer excess. Through self-portraiture and the examination of our own daily habits and routines we examine the dynamics of American life. Our work reflects the contradictions of suburban family life–its pleasures and discontentments, as well as our love-hate relationships with the things we possess and the people we live with. By using our home as a stage set and our family as the actors we attempt to fuse familial roles with tropes from Greek legends and Shakespearean dramas. Our work simultaneously “buys in to” and reveals the theatrics and spectacle of the world we live in. In addition to drawing parallels between storytelling and mythology, our work inherently comments on politics and privilege. By deconstructing our iteration of the nuclear family discussions of consumerism and stereotypes lead to larger themes of race, class and gender roles in contemporary American life.
Attending the residency at SFAI provided valuable time and space for us to create new work. We had been feeling “stuck” in our practice and being able to experience a place away from the usual daily distractions allowed us the creative breathing room to restart and discover. We were able to re-evaluate a project and take it in a fresh direction that we are very happy about. Additionally, have the chance to attend as a family during the family residency time, is so important and helpful for us. We are a collaborative husband-wife team and our children play a vital role in our practice so it was necessary for us to attend a residency together which the family residency allowed us to do.