Ann Hamilton’s Event of a Thread


On a Swing at The Event of a Thread

Note: This post is long overdue. I started this a month ago in January and have now gotten around to finishing it.

In the first week of January, when my best friend from grad school was here, we went to see the art installation by Ann Hamilton, the Event of a Thread on Jan 6th. It was a fantastic art installation that evoked in me the feelings of being a kid on a playground where your worries and cares were flung away once you were out playing. We both loved it. It was held at the Park Ave Armory, which is a glorious old building. The lobby and the smaller rooms were reminiscent of rooms in old manors with their dark wood paneling, decorated ceilings, and were filled to the brim with old silver. They decorated the hall to look like a wooded park, so there were potted trees and garlands decorated with pine cones.


People sat and laid down under the curtain

The lines for this exhibit were extraordinary. We heard of people waiting for two hours to enter and we’ve seen for ourselves the line wrapping around the block. We tried to go on Saturday, but the line was too long in the afternoon, so we decided to go the next day, which was also the last day. We woke up somewhat early and headed off. We arrived about 20 mins before it opened and a line had already formed. Still we didn’t have to wait all that long to get in once it opened.

The installation was breathtakingly amazing. It’s definitely one of the most memorable things that I’ve ever seen. In the large open arena, Ann Hamilton had set up a complex working of a large white curtain in the middle and swings on either side. As people worked the swings, that would pull on various parts of the curtain. In effect, the curtain appeared to be dancing (see my little video of it here). We had to wait a bit in order to get our chance to swing because everybody wanted to swing. It was well worth the wait and we had a ton of fun swinging and trying to avoid hitting people who inadvertently walked in front of us as we swung.


My view from looking up at the curtain

When we had our fill of swinging, we laid down under the curtain to watch the hypnotic swaying of the seemingly alive white cloth. The sensuous curves and undulating waves reminded me of Georgia O’Keeffe’s suggestive paintings of flowers.

We also went up to the mezzanine to see the installation from a different angle. It was interesting looking below to see people walking around, swinging, and getting a better view of how the rigging from the swings connected to the curtains.

In addition to the swings and the curtain, there were other things going on. Two people were reading aloud from a long long manuscript. Pigeons were in cages. There were radios in paperbags that broadcasted what was being read. On the other side, there was someone listening to the readings and writing down their feelings and thoughts elicited from the readings and what they were seeing from a mirror that reflected people swinging. As much as I love art, I had no idea what this portion of the installation was supposed to be about. Regardless, I thought The Event of a Thread was incredible and well worth the $10 entrance fee.

This NY Times article gives a nice summary and review of the Ann Hamilton’s work.

I also discovered that the Park Ave Armory has frequent events and from looking at past events, these are the sort of things that I find interesting. I signed up for the mailing list so I could find out about future events.


My celebration of art at the Met


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