Waiting for Bigfoot

San Francisco-based American artist Jill Miller is participating in Norwich Gallery's EAST 05 international exhibition, July 2 - August 20, 2005. Although she will exhibit a performance work, she will not appear in the gallery. At least not in the flesh. Miller's durational performance-installation, "Waiting for Bigfoot," will be located in a remote Northern California forest ("Bigfoot Country"). A live video feed will be delivered to the Norwich Gallery as real-time video via satellite uplink, 24 hours a day. The artist will live at the campsite, situated in the epicenter of Bigfoot sightings, for the duration of EAST 05.

Miller is interested in the philosophical, social and metaphorical implications that the Bigfoot creature represents. Western culture has long been obsessed with monsters and the unknown; currently, these obsessions manifest themselves in horror films such as Nosferatu, Rosemary's Baby, Exorcist, Night of the Living Dead and myriad maligned "B-grade" horror films. However, cinematic monsters are not the only creatures that dominate the psychological landscape of Western culture. Now, perhaps more than ever, citizens regularly report sightings of Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, aliens and metaphysical beings. While horror films manipulate our feelings of isolation or fear of the uncanny and the supernatural, the cultish following of mythical monsters such as Bigfoot or Loch Ness point less to a culture of fear and more to a culture of faith. Those who follow cryptozoology (the study of unknown animals) insist that creatures exist which we have yet to "discover." Not unlike religious debate, cryptozoology culture raises questions of belief and faith, prompting us to take a stand.

Miller postulates that Bigfoot is a metaphor for the natural human desire for mystery and the unknown. In an age that is hallmarked by scientific investigation, Western societies are occupied with the desire to know everything, such as determining how to stop the aging process, or defining which compounds comprise the surface of Mars. Scientific instruments are finely tuned to both our macro and microcosms. Carl Jung explains in Psychology and the Occult that despite the age of materialism and rationalistic enlightenment in Western societies, intense scientific and public interest in ESP, spirits, and invisible forces flourish. Scientific inquiry, in a pure academic approach, does not refute the unknown, but opens doors to pursuing it. Artist Jill Miller is interested in peeling back the layers of fear, irony, and pop culture that surround Bigfoot and creating a space that will generate larger questions of belief and inquiry.

Waiting for Bigfoot is a synthesis of Miller's own investigations into her working class American background combined with her highbred arts education. She has been influenced by the philosophical concerns of the land artists, the psychological implications of surveillance technology, and the questions raised by Allan Kaprow's inquiry into art and life. Her campsite will be equipped with the same cameras used by internet-based game hunting websites. Loren Coleman, renowned cryptozoologist and author, is advising Miller on the Jane Goodall approach to searching for Bigfoot.

Jill Miller received a BA with high honors in English literature from the University of California, Berkeley and an MFA in Fine Art at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she studied with John Baldessari, Mary Kelly, and Paul McCarthy. She is currently a Visiting Artist at the San Francisco Art Institute in California. Waiting for Bigfoot is generously supported by Norwich Gallery, Arts Council England, and cryptozoologist Loren Coleman.

In 2006, Waiting for Bigfoot will tour in the exhibition Cryptozoology: Out of Time Place Scale at Bates College Museum of Art and at the Kansas City Art Institute's H & R Block Artspace, curated by Mark Bessire.