Park Avenue Armory has commissioned artist Ann Hamilton to create a new installation, her first largescale project in New York City in more than ten years. On view from December 5, 2012, through January 6, 2013, the event of a thread weaves together Hamilton’s exploration of time-based performance, the act of public speaking, and the poetic accumulation of material for which she is best known.
Responding to the architecture and social history of the Armory, the participatory installation features a field of swings, suspended like pendulums from the drill hall trusses, and incorporates readings, sound, and other live elements that animate the 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall.
“The message in Hamilton’s work is carried poetically by the live presence of pigeons, acts of reading and writing, radio transmissions, and, perhaps most astoundingly, by visitors who are not only active participants, but whose singular encounters, together, literally make the work complete,” stated Rebecca Robertson, President and Executive Producer of Park Avenue Armory. “the event of a thread is a meditation on the state of ‘being alone together.’”
“Hamilton’s installation draws together human actions—including speaking, singing, reading and writing—with the poetic potential of physical forces, such as velocity, time, and sound,” stated Kristy Edmunds, Consulting Artistic Director at the Armory. “Weaving together these threads of activity and spatial exploration, Hamilton’s work envelops the visitor with a demonstration of collective identity and interconnectedness.”
The title of Hamilton's installation refers to the artist’s background in textile arts and quotes Anni Albers who, in writing on weaving for Encyclopedia Britannica, reflected that all weaving traces back to “the event of a thread.”
Hamilton extends Albers’ idea, using it as a metaphor in the creation of an environmental system that registers multiple intimate encounters within a vast and complex fabric of physical experiences. The work illuminates the condition of the social, the interconnectedness of our personal actions. 42 swings suspended from the hall’s elliptical wrought iron structural trusses connect via ropes and pulleys to each other and to a massive white cloth. Visitors’ movement on the swings is visibly registered in undulations of the cloth.
The white cloth bisects the field of swings, so that each of the 21 swings on one side of the cloth has its counterpart on the other side. The resultant movement in the cloth caused by one swing is further changed and enhanced when another visitor engages the corresponding swing on the opposite side of the cloth. Because the work is set in motion by the interaction of visitors, the resultant atmosphere of the installation will remain in a state of continual flux.
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