Art Department

Stephen E. Ostrow Distinguished Visitors

APRIL 11, 2005

Between Taxonomy and Communion, 1990
Between Taxonomy and Communion, 1990

Ann Hamilton's temporal, poetic works on the nature of language and the body have defined contemporary installations art over the last 20 years. The list of spaces she has exhibited reads much like the history of alternative spaces, biennials, and international exhibitions. These include the San Palo Biennale, The Carnegie International, The DIA Center, and the Tate in London, to name a few. Among her many impressive accomplishments are a MacArthur Fellowship in 1993, an N.E.A. Visual Arts Fellowship in 1993, and serving as the United States representative for the 1999 Venice Biennale.

Hamilton began her studies in Textile Design at the University of Kansas and received her MFA in sculpture from Yale University in 1985.

While at Yale, her work began to address the skin of the architecture that houses the body. Central to much of her work are issues of labor, the bodies performance and the "tableaux" or didactic display. She referred to her early works as "performance tableaux".

Hamilton has made over 60 installations to date. These site responsive works are done through a process of research and study. Each of them is completely unique and unrepeatable. Primarily Hamilton uses ephemeral materials, projection, light, sound, and the movement of our bodies. These spaces are more of an experience, a performance for the viewer, than a form.

While at Reed, Hamilton will meet with students and talk about her working process, which involves research into the political, socio-geography, and economic history of the place, getting to know the people who live and work there, and collecting metaphorical and poetic materials that can serve as linguistic devices. She describes her work as collections of bodies of knowledge.

Hamilton's lecture will explore several of her recent projects including "Corpus" at Mass MOCA, her commission for the Seattle Public Library and the Tower Project in San Francisco.

In September 2004, Hamilton's work "Corpus" opened at Mass MOCA in Amherst, Massachusetts. In this work, motorized paper dispensers released and blew paper over the vast museum space while speakers whispered hypnotic words through the space. This haunting work made one profoundly aware of the lack of written words on the paper as the sound of words and paper flew threw the air and piled on the floor over the many month of the exhibition.

Hamilton recently completed a commission for Seattle's New Public Library, a building designed by internationally recognized architect Rem Koolhaas. Hamilton's work quietly occupies the 7,200 square foot maple floor of the Library in World Languages Center. Using the opening lines of 556 classic texts Hamilton carved each in reverse in 11 different languages into the floor.

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