An Act of Attention

ANN HAMILTON: the event of a thread
Park Avenue Armory
December 5, 2012 - January 6, 2013 

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December 13, 2012

Artist Statement

I can remember the feeling of swinging—how hard we would work for those split seconds, flung at furthest extension, just before the inevitable downward and backward pull, when we felt momentarily free of gravity, a little hiccup of suspension when our hands loosened on the chain and our torsos raised off the seat. We were sailing, so inside the motion—time stopped—and then suddenly rushed again toward us. We would line up on the playground and try to touch the sky, alone together.

Suspended in the liquidity of words, reading also sets us in motion. We fall between a book’s open covers, into the texture of the paper and the regularity of the line. The rhythm and breath of someone reading out loud takes us to a world far away. As a child, I could spend hours pressed against the warmth of my grandmother’s body listening to her read, the rustling of her hand turning the page, watching the birds and the weather outside, transported by the intimacy of a shared side by side.

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.

No two voices are alike. No event is ever the same. Each intersection in this project is both made and found.

All making is an act of attention and attention is an act of recognition and recognition is the something happening that is thought itself.

As a bird whose outstretched wings momentarily catch the light and change thought’s course, we attend the presence of the tactile and perhaps most importantly—we attend to each other. If on a swing, we are alone, we are together in a field. This condition of the social is the event of a thread. Our crossings with its motions, sounds, and textures is its weaving; is a social act.

~ Ann Hamilton



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See also: "The Audience as Art Movement," by Roberta Smith, The New York Times, Dec. 6, 2012