STARTUP 2 - Page 47

Hamilton began this project by exploring Philadelphia’s textile collections and visiting some of its generations-old textile producers. Seeing looms that have been in operation for decades and watching raw material become a single thread, then a warp, and then a weft of a cloth: these experiences inspired the making of habitus. “Just as cloth is a structure binding individual threads into a larger whole, this project encourages associative links between historical objects, literary excerpts, textile processes, and their individual forms of knowledge and experience,” says the artist.

Municipal Pier 9

For the installation, Municipal Pier 9 is open to the air, the breeze, and the weather on the Delaware River. Rope and pulley mechanisms, inspired by the systems in cathedral bell towers, and activated by viewers set curtains spinning into motion. “The hand, listening to the ear, must know when to pull, when to hold and when to let go. The pattern of letting go and catching: that’s the sounding, the counting time of the body,” says Hamilton. Hamilton describes reading as an essential element of her practice: “The immersive, broadly associative thinking engendered by the solitary, silent act of reading is, for me, a “making” space. I have come to wonder how the “invisible” experience that is the act of reading might become a form of materialized making, how the way one reads might be thought of as a form of drawing.” This form of making comes forward in two new poems written by the Philadelphia poet Susan Stewart and printed on fabric strips wound on reels. CHANNEL and MIRROR, which follow the Delaware River from “sweet to salt and salt to sweet,” are read as the cloth passes continuously through the hand. Clothing always holds a memory of the body that once inhabited it. At Municipal Pier 9, threads pulled from knit sweaters—collected and donated to the project—are tied end to end and wound into a ball in a cycle of making and unmaking that ceaselessly rises and falls, like the circling of the curtains, the reeling of the poems, and the river itself.

Ann Hamilton • habitus • 2016. Installation at Municipal Pier 9, made in collaboration with The

Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia. Photo credit: Thibault Jeanson.

Ann Hamilton, (habitus • doll) Doll, 1800–1820. Papier-mâché; Wood; Linen; Cotton; Paint; Silk. Courtesy of Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, Gift of Katherine Gahagan, Michael H. du Pont, and Christopher T. du Pont in memory of A. Felix du Pont, Jr., 1999.19.1.