max c fields



Hillerbrand + Magsamen: Higher Ground (Relics of a Mission)

July 8  – 19, 2019
FotoFest pop-up exhibition, Winter Street Studios 2nd Floor Gallery


In 2015, artists Stephan Hillerbrand and Mary Magsamen with their children Emmett and Maddie, and dogs Onyx and Penny in tow, embarked on a mission to fly to the moon. After gathering the appropriate materials found in their junk drawers, garage, and kitchen, and after a few quick stops to the hardware store, the soon-to-be astronaut family began constructing the spacecraft and space suits that would take them on a lunar voyage. Pots, pans, and garbage cans were fashioned into rocket boosters and high-tech helmets. Painter’s coveralls were emblazoned with the official Higher Ground Mission iron-on insignia. An umbrella, a rake, and a spaghetti strainer, once adorned with a protective silver paint and essential disco ball, were converted into the satellite that would guide the family as they navigated the infinite cosmos.

After weeks of intense construction and days of physical and mental training, the team was finally ready to commence lift-off from the docking station located in their backyard. Their neighbors wished them luck as the team entered the launch sequence and prepared to experience zero gravity before bedtime. The video, photos, and objects presented in Hillerbrand + Magsamen: Higher Ground (Relics of a Mission) tell the story of this harrowing expedition. The included archive of memorabilia, commemorative plates, shirts, and mugs, illustrate the fanfare that awaited the Hillerbrand + Magsamen team upon their successful return to Earth.

Presented on the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo Moon Landing, this exhibition pays tribute to the incredible people who have traveled the cosmic frontier, in their careers as aerospace pioneers and in their imaginations as armchair adventurers.

This project is presented by FotoFest in conjunction with the Visit Houston: Space City event taking place on Saturday, July 13 at Sawyer Yards.

About the artists
The artistic team of Hillerbrand+Magsamenis the collaboration of Stephan Hillerbrand and Mary Magsamen. Together they create sculpture, installation, performance, video and photographic works they call “Suburban Fluxus.” Often including their two children, Madeleine and Emmett in their work, the family critiques and playfully scrutinizes contemporary suburban life.

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). Their most recent exhibitions include Priscilla Dobler and Hillerbrand + Magsamen: Americana at Maiden Lane exhibition Space (New York, NY, 2019) and The Devices Project, at the Wassaic Project (Wassaic, NY) and Heidi Vaughn Fine Art (Houston, TX) in 2019.

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: Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (New York, NY), Experimental Television Center (Owego, NY), Elsewhere (Greensboro, NC), Santa Fe Art Institute (Santa Fe, NM), Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT) and the Wassaic Project (Wassaic, NY). Stephan Hillerbrand is a recipient of two Fulbright Fellowships (Germany) and MacDowell Colony (Peterborough, NH) residency.

Click here to view the exhibition catalogue featuring an essay by Max Fields and interview with the artists.