Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Recess with Anitra Hamilton

At long last...

After playing some catch-up, Mercer Union Hall (finally) presents the next artist in the series, Anitra Hamilton. A while back, she presented the project Beater as part of her Three Car Pileup project. In the MOCCA parking lot, we all stood in awe (mixed with a bit of terror) as a few brave souls were blindfolded to take on a decorated car which was suspended from a crane for maximum pinata effect. Seducing Down the Door was never so cathartic.


C: This project is part of a series. In this portion of the series, you’ve managed to engage the public in many different ways, especially in terms of their familiarity with the pinata (also a huge part of Mexican culture).

A: The project was mainly about hijacking culture. Playing with aspects of other cultures costumes and traditions, and thereby speaking of nationalism and territoriality. The costumes etc are deceptively charming and beautiful, but essentially they're saying "we're from here and you are not"...fragmentation. I don't think too many people picked up on that here.

The project was originally meant to take place in Mexico and will in the future, the response there I'm sure will be much different. I was originally thinking of offering hammers as well as sledge hammers, but in the end it's survival of the fittest.

is part of a three part series involving cars titled Three Car Pile Up. The first was Overhaul, a car completely covered with green wedding car pom-poms, abandoned by the side of the road in Meaford, Ontario. It's meant to create a social enigma. People driving by will be thinking what the f%&*?

The third Hey Auslander will take place in Bavaria. Emelie Chhangur and Philip Monk of the AGYU and Iris Dressler and Hans Christ of Kunstverein Stuttgart are organizing that project. I'm not an "I hate cars" advocate, but I see them as really stupid bombs that manoeuvre around, slowly killing.

C: Like so many interactive pieces, Beater managed to act as an effective social catalyst while still maintaining its status as a stand-alone object. Did you anticipate its cross-over popularity? Was the heckling and hilarity ever a consideration in its conception?

A: Yes, the cars are meant to engage socially, but must function as art, otherwise they just become another stupid spectacle, or watered down relational aesthetics project.

C: Re: Stupid Bombs: That relates to your other works involving objects more closely related warcraft, which have also been well received (namely, and most recently at the AGYU). Is the familiarity and the subsequent fascination of destructive objects unsettling for you at times?

A: Yes, the works are all related in a strange way, not intentional, but it happens. Of course unsettling, we are, to some extent, in a society that is extinguishing itself.

C: I was kind of freaking out about the people wearing sandals while bashing the car, but it was also equally gratifying to see someone want to participate that badly...

My friend Tim opted to take off his flip-flops, it was a worry for me but I would never step in the way of someone else's play.

C: Wife-beater (White Sleeveless Tank): Husband-beater (FILL IN THE BLANK!)

A: Same, the ubiquitous white sling is unisex.

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