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bounden | 1997-1998

Part of the exhibition "Ann Hamilton: Present-Past, 1984-1997"
Musée d'art contemporain de Lyon
Lyon, France
November 16,1997-February 6, 1998

Ann Hamilton - bounden

Materials: hand stitched organza, wood embroidery frames, chairs, wall tearing water


bounden was located on the second floor of the Museé d’art Contemporain de Lyon, where nine floor-to-ceiling windows faced an extensive 19th century public park. The view out each window was veiled by a transparent layer of silk organza on to which continuously linked cursive writing was hand stitched in spider-like lines across its surface. Five existing texts that alternated between objective description and subjective experience were spliced into the surface, and the words lost their singularity and dissolved into an illegible web. In a sense, the text is erased as it is written and the space between the letters become more visible just as the lines of the letters become more or less visible with the changing light through the windows.

Across the 72-foot expanse of the wall running parallel to the windows, individual droplets of water continually emerged from thousands of miniscule orifices and wept down the white surface. Mimicking the cursive text of the window's silk panels, a bodily system comprised of thousands of feet of intravenous tubing hid behind the wall's veneer, pumping the supply of water to the skin of its surface.


Ann Hamilton - bounden


Scripted throughout each of the nine panels covering the windows was an anatomical description from Gray's Anatomy which outlined the sequence of incisions for opening the interior of the body. The selected sections described the process for the Head, Neck, Arm and Hand. The following texts were interwoven and spliced into the medical text in the order listed below:

  • "Lamentations," Susan Stewart, The Forest, The University of Chicago Press, 1995.
  • "A Dream of Slaughter," Rebecca Cox Jackson, The Gifts of Power: The Writings of Rebecca Jackson, Black Visionary, Shaker Eldress, edited by Jean McMahan Humez, 1981.
  • "Self-Portrait as Hurry and Delay (Penelope At Her Loom)," Jorie Graham, The Dream of the Unified Field, Selected Poems 1974-1994, The Ecco Press, 1997.


Photo credit: Blaise Adilion


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