Artists Ann Hamilton and Michael Mercil, with art historian and the Rail’s ArtSeen editor Amanda Gluibizzi, discuss creative life in the context of our new social reality.
Ann Hamilton is a visual artist internationally acclaimed for her large-scale multimedia installations, public projects, and performance collaborations. Her site-responsive process works with common materials to invoke particular places, collective voices, and communities of labor. Noted for a dense accumulation of materials, her ephemeral environments create immersive experiences that poetically respond to the architectural presence and social history of their sites. Whether inhabiting a building four stories high or confined to the surface of a thimble, the genesis of Hamilton’s art extends outwards from the primary projections of the hand and mouth. Her attention to the uttering of a sound or the shaping of a word with the hand places language and text at the tactile and metaphoric center of her installations. To enter their liminality is to be drawn equally into the sensory and linguistic capacities of comprehension that construct our faculties of memory, reason and imagination.
In a time when successive generations of technology amplify human presence at distances far greater than the reach of the hand, what becomes the place and form of making at the scale and pace of the individual body? How does making participate in the recuperation and recognition of embodied knowledge? What are the places and forms for live, tactile, visceral, face-to-face experiences in a media saturated world? These concerns have animated the site responsive installations that have formed the bulk of Hamilton’s practice over the last 20 years. But where the relations of cloth, sound, touch, motion and human gesture once gave way to dense materiality, Hamilton’s work now focuses on the less material acts of reading, speaking and listening. The influence of collaborative processes in ever more complex architectures has shifted her forms of making, wherein the movement of the viewer in time and in space now becomes a central figure of the work.
Born in Lima, Ohio, in 1956, Ann Hamilton received a BFA in textile design from the University of Kansas in 1979 and an MFA in sculpture from the Yale School of Art in 1985. From 1985 to 1991, she taught on the faculty of the University of California at Santa Barbara. Hamilton has served on the faculty of The Ohio State University since 2001, where she is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Art. Read more.
Michael Mercil lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he teaches in the Department of Art at The Ohio State University. His art explores realms of “the near, the low, the common” in two and three dimensions as well as in landscape architecture, film, performance, and farming. Mercil has exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the United States. His recently opened Art Market™, is an ongoing, studio-based project located in a southside Columbus neighborhood.
Mercil’s writings have appeared in Anthropocene, PLACES, Post Road, Public Art Review, and TriQuarterly. His essay, co-authored with Amanda Gluibizzi, on Lucy Lippard’s, “Dematerialization of the Art Object …” is included in the Cambridge History of Postmodern Literature, published in 2016. Read more.
In the Rail:
- “What Forms of Making Might Spin the Stories We Need to Lift Ourselves from the Distractions of the Immediate?” Ann Hamilton with Thyrza Nichols Goodeve
- Ann Hamilton, Corpus MassMoCA July 2004
Amanda Gluibizzi is an ArtSeen editor at the Brooklyn Rail. An art historian, she is the co-director of The New Foundation for Art History and the author of Art and Design in 1960s New York (forthcoming).
In the Rail: