The fact is that a swing will unwind the toughest of customer. Usually it wouldn’t even be an option in a fine art environment, but Ann Hamilton made it so at the Park Avenue Armory. In recent years, Yoshitomo Nara, Christian Boltanski, Tom Sachs and Ernesto Neto have made the space into a funhouse of sorts.
Ann Hamilton filled the Armory with a sheet of fabric the size of a football field, rigged 20 or so swings to it and allowed the audience to determine its volume and movement by their actions. It was airy and sweet and so many of the things that can be good about large installation pieces. People went to the center and laid beneath the fabric like they were finding shapes in the clouds, laughing and pointing and staring in awe. It was a crowd pleaser and I don’t think that is bad. There is joy in this art.
Hamilton gives us several other things to chew on. The aptly named “the event of a thread” encompassed multiple actions: the release of caged birds, an operatic performance (recorded and replayed daily), the recitations of caped performers and the artist writing correspondence onsite. These things seemed tacked on distractions at first but as the end of day ritual unfolded with 100 people looking to the rafters to see and hear our Diva perform, I could understand their usefulness. Yet the most important part, the main event of the billowing fabric fills the space with a presence without equal.
Sadly this is over and I report to you in the past tense. I was, always am, skeptical. It is nice to have that undone occasionally.