Ann Hamilton: the event of a thread


We recently discovered Ann Hamilton’s the event of a thread (2012-13) that combines everything from the beauty of motion and sailing through the wind, to the momentary feeling of weightlessness and being alone together. All the while surrounded by the rhythm of the spoken word, as a voice reads aloud to you from a text that offers warmth in its wisdom.

Staged at Park Avenue Armory the event of a thread consisted of a field of swings connected via ropes and pulleys to a white silk cloth, that moved and swayed with each tug of a swing. Across the room two readers read from special scrolls, surrounded by birds in cages – one species bound by gravity to another whose capacity for flight provokes irreconcilable longings in the other’.

Tiny speakers placed onto hand carried paper bags, carry these voices through the Drill Hall where this work was installed, ‘offer(ing) the intimacy of a private voice in a public arena. Words allow us to travel while the tactile keeps us present; a rhythmic exchange of reeling out and pulling in that is also the swing’s pendulum’.

Ann Hamilton · the event of a thread

Ann Hamilton · the event of a thread

Ann Hamilton · the event of a thread

Ann Hamilton · the event of a thread

As Ann says in her artist statement

‘the event of a thread is made of many crossings of the near at hand and the far away: it is a body crossing space, is a writer’s hand crossing a sheet of paper, is a voice crossing a room in a paper bag, is a reader crossing with a page and with another reader, is listening crossing with speaking, is an inscription crossing a transmission, is a stylus crossing a groove, is a song crossing species, is the weightlessness of suspension crossing the calling of bell or bellows, is touch being touched in return. It is a flock of birds and a field of swings in motion. It is a particular point in space at an instant of time’.

Ann Hamilton · the event of a thread

Ann Hamilton · the event of a thread

We cannot help but be moved by this work. Just as the crossing of threads make a cloth, so do the crossing of people make a community, and in this case, art.

All images borrowed with thanks (c) Ann Hamilton

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