Ann Hamilton

Ann Hamilton has always had a strong connection between the thread of sewing and the line and the line of writing. Hamilton is fascinated by the material and sewing as you are able to see each individual thread of the material, which is a beautiful metaphor. Hamilton is most well known for her work of the toothpick suit.
For Hamilton, the line is like how we make things with language, and this concept has been bought through her work. She works with words and space as a material, as you would any other material. Within a fabric factory that recently shut down, she worked on an installation of space. Her trick is to make herself blank in order to determine what you feel, smell, see etc, which is another large influence on her practice. One of the rooms that she created in the space is for the writer, and the other is for the reader. These rooms were identical in size and shape, and both had a long wooden table with a spinning projector. People have to break out what they expect to see, for example a pencil eating a line.
For a Venice Bienniale, she wanted to do a piece on how to talk about our own social history. The spoken piece was in the phonetic alphabet, played from each corner of the room and was also translated letter by letter into braille. Fuchsia powder was then puffed down the walls, revealing the braille. Hamilton wants to give the voice but not necessarily using hers, and thus finding that she becomes the eye.
By using a pinhole camera from her mouth, opening her mouth and exposing the film, she found that she was in a vulnerable and relaxed position. The shape of the mouth is also very much the same shape as the eye, and so the image becomes the pupil. Hamilton also looked at sheets of bubbles and found it had to same fluidity as the cloth that she is so used to using. You are able to bring your hand through it and see the reflection of different colours.
I found the intimacy between artist and material very detailed, and the way in which the words were the influence as well as the material. The use of the lines, and specifically the braille, turns the pieces from something that someone would walk by into something that someone needs to wait to understand. The juxtaposition of the colours in the braille piece was also shocking, highlighting the depth of the piece, and I enjoyed watching the puff of fuchsia down the wall.
For a detailed video on Ann Hamilton’s work, head to Art21.

Leave a Reply