These photographs by artist Ann Hamilton were developed in conjunction with a large-scale installation commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 2009 as part of the exhibition The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia 1860-1969. Ann Hamilton’s human carriage featured a pulley system circumnavigating the central ramp of the Guggenheim, which triggered the retrieval and release of stacks of cut and rejoined sections of paperback books in an expanding pile in the museum’s lobby. As the artist prepared to send her materials to New York, she scanned images of the stacked texts, images which subsequently developed into the body of work presented here. Documentation became creation: “a process of making,” Hamilton observes,” is an act of finding.”
“The time we spend in words is enormous. At any moment we might be speaking, reading, writing, or listening to and with words….Writing is one of the central ways culture makes and records itself. For me, textiles is another. They are two sides of the same cloth. What I love in the experience of reading is the being immersed, the falling into the fold between two pages, the being completely in the “somewhere else” that is the book. This ability to simultaneously be both here and far away, to be both inside and outside parallels the condition of being a body. So it is no surprise that the book is a central artifact of culture. While reading a book might forever change us, it seems paradoxical that the act of reading itself doesn’t leave a visible physical mark; though we mark and remark upon the books that we read.
The relationship between a line of thread and a line of writing are central, structuring aspects of my work. The words and the thread come forward in one making hand. Perhaps it is the words that allow us to travel and the tactile threads that keep us here. Our time, the rhythmic exchange of one reeling out and the other pulling in.”
About the artist
Ann Hamilton lives and works in Columbus, Ohio, where she is professor of art at Ohio State University. Hamilton’s large-scale, multi-sensory works have been exhibited in museums all over the world, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Tate Gallery, Liverpool; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto, Japan; The Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands; The Art Institute of Chicago, and many others. Hamilton represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 1999, and has received numerous awards, including a MacArthur Fellowship and the Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship.