In Projects 48: Anne Hamilton, a new, site-specific installation by American artist Ann Hamilton (b. 1956) reveals the artist’s interest in the relationship between sight and touch, and the ability of an image to challenge the habits of our perceptions.
Hamilton’s installation, which is entitled Seam, presents in her words “a giant picture of touch” and marks the first time she has used large-format video as a central focus of her work. Projected on a screen is a thirty-minute sequence showing the artist’s greatly enlarged, ink-stained index finger rubbing honey over a transparent surface. In front of the screen, at an awkward viewing distance from the image, Hamilton has placed two long wooden benches mounded with hundreds of variegated red rags.
“Simultaneously evoking the painterly application and erasure of pigment, and a churning organism in a strange, viscous environment, Hamilton’s close-up image and its oddly scaled viewing room are at once mesmerizing and disorienting, simple and uncanny,” states curator Robert Storr.
Installation is Hamilton’s primary medium. Each new location inspires a specific, improvised response. The spare environment she has created for Projects deliberately contrasts with her previous, generally more elaborate works. These were usually characterized by either the actual presence or suggested absence of a protagonist, and employed a lavish quantity of rich and sensuous materials. Parallel Lines, for example, which she created in 1991 for the twenty-first International São Paulo Bienal, featured a ship-length cradle of votive candles, floors tiled with thousands of copper tokens, and twin glass cases containing the moldering carcasses of a pair of turkeys.
Born in Lima, Ohio, Ann Hamilton currently resides in Columbus. After completing a BFA in textile design in 1979 at the University of Kansas, she began her career as a weaver. In 1985 she received an MFA in sculpture at Yale University, where she did her first performances using herself as a mobile base for her sculpture. Since then Hamilton has created more than a dozen major installations in this country and abroad. Her most recent one-person exhibition was at the Tate Gallery, Liverpool, in 1994.
Organized by Robert Storr, Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture.