Five questions with… Paola Morsiani on Ann Hamilton
By Carrie Reese
Marketing and Communications Intern
Contemporary Artist Ann Hamilton will be coming to speak at the Cleveland Museum of Art Saturday April 9th at 2:30. We sat down with Contemporary Art Curator Paola Morsiani to talk about why she asked Ann Hamilton to come speak and what the public will take away from her talk.
Why did you pick Ann Hamilton to speak at the museum?
When we received a grant to create a pilot program to bring in contemporary artists, my colleagues and I came up with the idea of inviting artists whose work hasn’t been collected yet in our collection and whose work may look like it’s impossible to collect because it’s large or complex. We then thought that one artist should have some ties to Ohio, Cleveland or the larger region. Ann Hamilton is from Columbus. She was my first thought because I’ve known her work for a long time and she has been so important for American as well as international art.
What specifically about her art is influential? What themes does she carry throughout her work?
She has given the beginnings of 1960s performance art a much more sculpturally defined version and also a sense of intimacy. As a viewer, you come into her installations and you are instantly surrounded. It is work that is also based on performance and sculpture but in a much different way than actual performance art. You experience her art as a discovery. You always find out more about yourself through experiencing her work.
Her work continues to combine rigor, vision, and invention. Her work is based on body and space awareness, as well as the use of technology that give life to her singular installations and events.
How should people interact with her art?
The works normally involve all of your senses. One of her overarching ideas is that your body is a whole and that therefore the esthetic experience is based on all of these components of who we are.
How do you mix the physical with the intellectual components of her work?
Often she involves writings and texts so that when your whole body is involved then your thoughts just proceed out of these whole experiences. But in general there is also a discovery of your own abilities to feel and see—it’s an extension of your abilities to actually have a grasp on the place where you are. This heightened awareness allows you to be stronger. She often relates her work to extreme situations - blindness, for example. Her installations always involve some very complex technological construction. In one of her most famous installations she used Braille along with shocking pink powder coming down the wall. The wall had been imbedded with Braille from a poem, so the pink powder that runs down the wall rests on the Braille; making it visibl!
How do you hope the conversation goes when she comes here? What are some questions to think about during her lecture?
Because of the complexity of her installation, you always wonder where she started and how this all began. How was she able to actually then render these ideas? I believe her beginning ideas are very abstract and she has made them concrete. How do you go from one to the other? And what is she interested in right now, what are the most interesting aspects of her sensorial relationship to art and researching?