Susan Hiller, the London-based American artist whose work explored language and the paranormal, has died after a short illness. She was 78.

In a tribute to the artist on its website, Lisson Gallery said Hiller would be remembered “not only as a friend, thinker and mentor, but as a powerful and unique voice in contemporary art over the last four decades. Her investigations and revelations of the hidden depths of human imagination found their expression in installation, film, painting, writing, sculpture and photography.”

Writing on Twitter, Matt’s Gallery described Hiller, with whom the gallery was planning an exhibition in March, as “a unique and idiosyncratic voice, a great artist, writer, thinker and mentor to many”.

Hiller was born in 1940 in Tallahasse, Florida. After studying anthropology in the US she moved to the UK in the 1960s and began her practice as an artist. She became known for her video art and installations, coining the the term ‘paraconceptual’ to describe her investigations into human conciousness and the paranormal.

Her 2000 installation, Witness, consisted of multiple speakers hanging from the ceiling, with each one recounting a different tale of alien abduction. Early work such as 1973’s Dream Mapping, was a record of dreams experienced by Hiller and six friends as they slept for three nights in what she described as “fairy rings” in Wiltshire.

More recently, at Documenta 13 in 2012 Hiller placed five jukeboxes around Kassel featuring 102 of her personal collection of songs relating to the idea of political freedom.

Hiller’s work was collected widely and held in the collections of major institutions such as Tate and MoMA. In 2011 Tate Britain presented a major retrospective of her work, curated by Ann Gallagher.

Commenting on her death, Gallagher said: “Susan’s significance and influence as an artist is immense and will undoubtedly only increase over time, but her presence, her sharp intellect, her wisdom and her friendship will be much missed by so many.”

Hiller was known for her championing of fellow women artists and her death has prompted many tributes on social media. Writing on Twitter, the artist Tai Shani said: “This is awful news. I admired and was intimidated by her, and very, very much respected her work and her ways.”

Susan Hiller. Photo: Carla Borel; Courtesy: Lisson Gallery

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