Light. Invitation to unthink the familiarity of the tube lights, the inevitability of a particular use. Standing near it, watching, looking, walking around, near and away, reminded me of Keyezua’s recent comment on her photographies:
“After finishing at the Royal Academy of Arts, I decided that I do not have to care about my decisions as an artist,” explains Keyezua, who is based in Luanda, Angola. “It felt good to have the freedom to do something without having a certain idea why you were creating it.”
Both the light tube construction and the paper “reliefs on the back wall evoke that freedom.
Does their not- too- shy- energy transform the space?
In proportion to the space this open “volume” commands attention effortlessly. Perhaps the significance of the question “how many?” will shed any assumed irrelevance when the eye compares the “36” edition with a fewer light tubes.
This is an earlier variant in a smaller space, yet, the wordless eloquence feeds imagination as well as the version with many more tubes. It parallels the difference between an orchestra and a chamber music – and similarly, in both cases the aesthetic power is independent of the number of instruments. An aria and a chorus?
The vertical tube standing firmly upright, while the other two are in a free fall, not only anchors the moment of movement, it also enters into a dialogues with the other verticals in the visual field, i.e. walls. thus providing a spontaneous belonging, not so much to a hierarchy, as to revelation of what may occur next. Dance? Fall? Nothing?
The light tubes as they navigate space, share something with Vikings. Those sailors used calcite’s power to reveal the light patterns in the sky, that exist even in overcast weather. T The light tubes reveal spots, stains on floor, walls and ceiling, light patterns that change as I walk around. Visual art favours its appeal as a transformer of perception of space. Hamilton invites the sound to contribute. I found it superfluous for this installation. Reminds me of horror vacui, which is, after all, governing some of her earlier work, where she covers every surface with variety of marks and patterns,
Whereas in Semblance and Event she timed her drawing performance to shorter duration, wore a paper bag over her head, and recorded it on a video.
Hamilton’s tumultuous outpouring favours luxurious outburst and invites vacuous pauses as if to interact. Visible and imagined wait for the sound. The sound then dominates the large projection of gesture tracking, mark making on acetate sheets over the glass surface of overhead projector.
On the adjacent wall, a large number of acetate sheets with such drawings produced between 2014 -2018, a growing archive, are deliberately losing visibility. Like Eva Hesse, Hamilton hangs them in a row, making the drawing hardly accessible to an eye.
Her performances, on the other hand, zoom on the surface of the walls as a received ground, and make every details accessible. There are two photographic prints (2016) that also call for near viewing involving private thoughts.
Two ink drawings on paper (2014 and 2016) confirm, in this installation, her acceptance of more traditional way of making images.
However, the arrogance of sensory and hedonistic pleasure from tactile values inspires two of hers not so ordinary paper reliefs. They are just about visible in the image i repeat here (I used it above)
In an earlier installation, which is lit up to reveal a little more of the detailing. The paper is squashed in irregular interaction of push and pull, a very rare technique. Invented technique – in comparison with origami, this is wild. Paper’s integrity is respected by unusual dexterity of – I assume – hand and fingers.
I do not see her practice as crossing borders between “…object, digital interaction and action/performance…”(see gallery handout) simply because all are objects, more or less durational. The sound, light. movement, timing etc are added to objects found, received or resulting of action, space and time included. In addition there is the control by the viewer as moving object about angles of viewing, time of the perception, attention to detail. Light and shadows, stasis and movements appear to be the the grounding matrix, central to Hamilton’s courage to invent.
Even if accidental, the reflection on the floor gives aesthetic experience distantly belonging the the exhibit. A chance for the beauty to join the mundane.
The gallery notes offer a startling summary for Semblance and Event: ” …(it) seeks to draw together old and new works that will bring into dialogue stark and austere examination of materials and matter with processes of making that resemble ascetic practices of repetition.”
That is an insider’s view that does not matter to the incidental aesthetic experience of looking, walking around, listening and looking again. The installations offered some poetic passages and some hard nosed rejection of such a fanciful expectation. The sound was so feeble in the main gallery, that it called for a search. In the second gallery, the added noise to the expected sound of the tip pen on acetate at times overwhelmed the visual tacit components. As if to soothe that hanging in parallel in a right angle to the wall , that prevents seeing the whole drawing, the flicker of light on the hangers is pure poetry. I believe it was deliberate to set the spot lights so, that they transformed dark clasps into two patterns of light paths that meet in the middle of the projected curve while disappearing there. Beautiful.
Images courtesy Helena Hamilton’s website and Facebook page.