Over the last two decades, Hamilton has used a wide range of media-from photography and video to installations and performance-to forge new pathways of communication and affect specific to the feminine experience, based in qualities of touch, materiality, and the body. While all of her work involves a rigorous questioning of the primacy of sight among the senses, it does so paradoxically through a nearly rapturous visual beauty: installations featuring glimmering beads of water or pink powder coursing down a white wall (the latter settling over the braille dots of a Charles Reznikoff poem), or candle wax dripping from the rafters of a hollowed-out rowhouse onto an empty ledger.
a,b,c was shown opposite one of the artist's "weeping walls" at the 2000-2001 Carnegie International, and shares the same ineffable poetry as these larger, more ephemeral works. In a 26-minute loop, a wetted fingertip slowly erases a backwards alphabet; the amoeba-like form then retraces its path, "writing" the sequence forwards and in correct order. "The camera is following a lens of water," Hamilton has said, "that is the point of contact between finger and glass-it acts as a magnifier." With exquisite economy of means and hypnotic simplicity, the artist compounds modes of visual apprehension (linguistic, photographic) in order to dissolve them into the untranslatable realm of touch. As a work whose beginning is an end and vice versa, a,b,c is also a fitting first foray into the medium of video art at the Metropolitan Museum.
Artist; [Sean Kelly, New York]; Peter Norton Family Foundation, Santa Monica, California
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photographs: A Decade of Collecting," June 5, 2001–September 4, 2001.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Closed Circuit: Video and New Media at the Metropolitan," February 23, 2007–April 29, 2007.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Surface Tension," September 15, 2009–March 15, 2010.