The encounter between international artist Gary Hill and Martin Cothren, an Amerindian fisherman from the Yakama reserve, thrown in prison and died homeless shortly after his release: conceived by Gary Hill, this singular book alternates the story of their common history over twenty years, touching and tragic (an opportunity for Hill to look back on his own trajectory) and Cothren's letters, interspersed with his extraordinary naive drawings.
While searching for subjects for his installation Viewer (1996), a happenstantial encounter between the artist Gary Hill, a white middle-class Californian and Martin Cothren, a Yakama Native American, morphed into an ambivalent friendship of otherness—a twenty-year saga encompassing frustration, paranoia, generosity, forgiveness and deep sorrow. Perhaps the meaningfulness of their connection is an unspoken one. Nevertheless, the encounter herein becomes a non-linear play with living memory constructing a fluctuating space of drawings and hand written letters intercut with prose in which these two particular human beings continue to manifest kinship.
A major video artist and considered as one of the main actors in new media art, Gary Hill (born 1951 in Santa Monica, CA) has worked with a broad range of media—including sculpture, sound, video, installation and performance—since the early 1970's. His longtime work with intermedia continues to explore an array of issues ranging from the physicality of language, synesthesia and perceptual conundrums to ontological space and viewer interactivity.
A Native American from the Yakama reserve, Martin Cothren (1960-2016) was a fisherman by trade and drew pictures as a pastime depicting native tradition iconography. The drawings gained in complexity during multiple stints in prison where he also learned the craft of beading. Being a spiritual person at heart he could not cope with the ruthlessness of the white man’s world and died homeless on the streets of Anchorage, Alaska on June 4, 2016.