Ann Hamilton’s The Event of A thread is commissioned by the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. The work communicates with the building’s architecture, and proposes individual encounters and congregational gatherings. Entering the Armory, I’m amazed by the space itself. The white fabric looks inviting, and the lighting design really emphasizes the beautiful floor. What I personally do not like, are the carrier pigeons in the cages.
Then there are paper bags, which are passed around randomly. These bags are talking to us.
I get to hold a paper bag. All it talks to me is very refined. The tone of the voice is calming. The voice talks about desire, but it is the spiritual desire that encores light. The threads that connect to the fabric from the swings, and the fabric itself create the airy feeling of the space. I want to lie down. I want to get in touch with the magnificent floor. Is the white fabric like the cloud of the digitalized age? Our shared consciousness, which is now transformed by individual threads that are anti- modern. Or are they the same as the virtual world? While listening to the paper bag, I connect the story to the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, whose concept of the virtual now starts occupying my thoughts.
The paper bags with recorded voices are the ‘impersonalized spirits’ talking in the space. The bag I hold becomes the intimate link between the abstract and the embodied. Next, I get on a swing, and let it move me through the space. Its movements become time. Perhaps this space makes us visit the concept of the non-technological of our lives, like the play and flow would be. Trying to be outside the industrial nonsense. I try to let my body feel the space. We are like in a rock concert, trusting each other collectively, letting ourselves experiment this play together. A collective play.
I have a problem with the pigeons, what are those weird birds in their cages? Are they confirmations of the past, the architectural plans, messages carried in-between? They are silent and obedient, so we observe them. They are on the table right next to the ‘ceremonial masters’ who are sitting on their chairs, looking at their dry papers and uttering almost silently. The readers are performing a performance, where the birds are their backdrop, an element to show the human mind. The birds are the messengers waiting for a task to deliver a letter across, a message of a carrier.
We, their audience are worshipers of the mechanics. What is a better place to show it off than in this hall, which is not empty at all. If we thought it was empty, we would claim that false in an instant. The windows themselves, the interior of the hall, and the exterior daylight or nightlight intruding and coloring the space is in a constant motion. Now the light paths are carving the space underneath, front and back of the swings.
We consider our world as virtual, and this event becomes one like it. My suggestion is that do not try to make your visit only a communal. The white cloud fabric is making a point to be there, to breathe with it, and allow it to stop you or change the patterns of your movements.
I take the stairs up to the balcony. This itself gives me a different meaning, the perspective of randomness of this event. The experience is structured for us to play, and the play has a spiritual or metaphysical dimension. According to the paper bag, it connects us to desire. Desire for life? Movements of the ocean, clouds, vehicles, eternity, the movement of the cells of our bodies?