About the Photographer
American, b. 1956
Trained in textiles and sculpture, and self-taught in other fields, Ann Hamilton's projects incorporate diverse media. She is perhaps most famous for her installations (begun in the early 1980s) and her performances (starting with 1984's suitably positioned), but photographs also constitute an important part of her oeuvre. While Hamilton considers the photographs of her installations strictly as documentation, she takes a different view of the photographs where she has staged an act or scene specifically for the camera. This group of artworks includes the body object pictures, which she began printing in 1984. The series depicts Hamilton in largely blank spaces where she is dominated by a central object: sometimes by simple and singular items like a stool, a boot, or a door; other times by more complicated and clearly constructed props such as a hat filled with honey or a suit made from thousands of toothpicks. Though static and still, the scenes in these pictures have the tension of potential energy.
Hamilton shifts her attention from object to act with her mouth-held pinhole camera work. She initiated this style of working – holding a canister containing a strip of film in her mouth and using her lips as an aperture to create each exposure – in 1998 with a series of self-portraits, portal. By 2001, however, she shifted her interest from strictly the self to sometimes include others in the series Face to Face. Face to Face #60 depicts her hands and a desktop framed by the striated edges of her lips. The shape of the opening suggests an eye, alluding to the visual nature of a photograph, while the act of opening her mouth recalls speaking – a reminder that Hamilton is both revealing an intimate view and authoring it.
Ann Hamilton was born in Lima, Ohio in 1956. She holds a BFA in textile design from University of Kansas, Lawrence (1979) and an MFA in sculpture from Yale School of Art and Architecture (1985). Exhibitions of her work include Ann Hamilton at hand at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Ann Hamilton at Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada; Ann Hamilton: present–past 1984-1997 at Musée d'Art Contemporain de Lyon, France; and Ann Hamilton: by mouth and hand, 1990-2001 at Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence; and Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana. She was also selected to represent the United States at the 1999 Venice Biennale. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Arts Fellowship, Hamilton has taught at the University of California Santa Barbara, Louisiana State University, and Virginia Commonwealth University.