Ann Hamilton

ART:21: Your work has often been described as ‘installation art.’ Could you talk about what an installation is and what it means to you, personally, to work in this way?

HAMILTON: I think the form, for me, of working in installation is one that always implicates you actively within it. So that unlike an object, which we are very comfortable standing outside of and looking at, to work in installation is to work in relation to a particular place and all of the confluences and complexities of whatever it is that creates that (space). And so, as a viewer, to come in, it’s the experience the minute you cross the threshold: it’s the smells, it’s the sounds, it’s the temperature, it’s how all of those things have everything to do with the felt quality of ultimately what the thing becomes. I started in weaving, in textiles. I think that my first hand is still a textile hand in some ways, but I was very dissatisfied with the flatness that things actually had when they were done. It seemed like they were dead in some ways. And working, for me, in the form of installation in the way that I have, it’s that you’re coming in and you’re in some instances animating the space, and the process is often very social; for me, that part of it is very satisfying. There’s a way that it (the installation) has an ongoing life as it meets the public. Every moment that it’s up it’s different. It’s different from moment to moment, and somehow it’s that live time that’s just a factor of the form really, or something that is characteristic or inherent in the form is something that makes it continually interesting for me. It’s like there’s no real repetition in that time. Every day you’ll come in and every day it may be the same, seemingly, but within that there’s a difference and it’s only…I don’t know, I guess it allows that to be experienced and to be felt and registered.

ART:21: And there’s also the way in which installations are impermanent, being specific to a particular place and time.

HAMILTON: Well, certainly. It’s almost like the attitude about this space is not necessarily to alter it or deny it or erase it in any way, but to make present something that’s always here, make it more experienceable, perhaps. And part of that is its live time, and so the duration of that time means that it’s ephemeral in this form here. I don’t think it means that it can’t be reinstalled or have another iteration, but that will always be different. The experience of it will be different because of all the factors that actually give this the atmosphere that it has; it won’t be there in another situation or context. I suppose it is that live quality that is the thing that keeps it animate for me. You know, it’s that it’s never quite fixed, and so I don’t really think that it’s ultimately ephemeral. I mean, I feel like the video could be installed in a lot of different ways, and could take on different layers of meaning depending on whatever context it goes into. But it will only be like this once.

Artist Website here:


2 thoughts on “Ann Hamilton

  1. I have seen this before…too many times. I do admit though that Hamilton’s installation of the moving video with the drapes is very emotional towards her theme. Everything was taken into consideration when she created this installation which makes it successful. After seeing this with one of my friends, he was actually inspired by the way in which Hamilton projects her video footage. He has come up with various ways in which to project images and restrain them beyond what is behind (he uses a lot of translucent material). Beautiful work.

  2. I hadn’t seen this in quite some time, but I think its still important to note the creative use of installation that she had used. It forces the viewer to interact with the this “Art environment” one that provokes different senses than if one was to just stand to one side and watch it happen.

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