Ann Hamilton’s work is best described in her own writerly voice. Here is how she describes this artwork:
the floor, a field of linens, wine-stained
stepped, kicked, picked, on, over, through
the wall between in and out, the sound of a voice
the muted pace of remembering
an internal dialogue, the song of myself
inside, a horizon of bed linens
a refrectory table, a wicker casket,
a figure, a bowl of bread dough, a gesture,
forming a mould of the mouth’s hollow
filling and emptying
accumulating in the casket’s hollow
attending the flesh of the voice
“The entrance to the space was strewn with rags wine-stained and wrung from washing.
Stepping through, around, on, and over the musty bed linens the more private interior of
the gallery was entered by passing around a twenty-foot wall. Speakers buried in the wall
projected the sound of a voice reading sections from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself and
The Body Electric. Containing the quality pace and tone of a lowly amplified internal dialogue, the sound was that of one reading softly to oneself and the text was perceived more
as tone than as individual words. From December 7th, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor,
to December 23rd, when the gallery closed for Christmas, the piece had a constant live
presence. Seated at a table between a bowl of raw bread dough and a basket used at the turn
of the century to deliver bodies to the morgue, I slowly stuffed a piece of dough into my
mouth until it took the form and impression of the hollow space, then removed and placed
the molds in the bottom of the casket. The activity, repeated slowly, half filled the basket
over the course of the two weeks. Across the back of the space a horizon line was formed
by piled and cascading bed linens.” - Ann Hamilton
Ann Hamilton: malediction
Messiaen’s commentary for XII. La parole toute puissante (The all-powerful word)
“Monody with low percussion.
This child is the Word who bears up all things by the power of his utterance.”
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
Our transience is at odds with the permanence of God’s Word, which speaks to us in ways we could never fathom.
The bread and the wine are human food. Why did God make His sacrament in the shape of food? Why did he prepare His flesh for us? How can we prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ and His body?
The rags are washed but stained by the wine. The bread is pressed into the mouth and then piled into a woven casket. We will drift like Moses. Certainly the music will bear us up with it as does Christ.
Lord - make us silent so that the only thing we hear is Your Word.