Often playfully appropriating images of famous people and popular culture from across recent decades, Anthea Hamilton’s sculptural works and installations bring together a variety of props and characters in situations that resemble theatre-like settings. The installations propose a kind of alternative reality where gender roles, sexuality, domestic life and the traditions of different cultures become notions that oscillate between cliché and fluidity. Working with the male and female subject alike – from Jane Birkin to John Travolta, via food, advertisements, furniture and clothes – along with references to the artist’s own body, the works become like personalities that co-exist, forming curious hybrid relationships, exuding sexiness and wit.
Referencing the spaces used for creating the special effects of film and media imagery, two sculptural works are presented within the chroma key blue Cut-Outs room. Often focusing on female legs, which are based on the artist’s own, these fragmented bodies are themselves cut-out, occupying these spaces in various states of activity, perhaps dancing, parading or occasionally sitting, all with correct postures. Reflective of everyday experience under the conditions of patriarchy, the installation is also typical of Hamilton’s way of creating experiential settings, where viewers occupy space with the anthropomorphic presence of the works.
Each work from Hamilton’s Manblind series appropriates a different image of a rather retro-looking male pin-up and turns it into a vertical blind, suspended in space. Commenting on the dominant perspectives in society, we can look through the blind, with our vision partially obscured by the male filter. Alternately, we can also just enjoy their classic good looks.
In an interplay with the Manblind is Hamilton’s Leg Chair series of furniture sculptures, which are also based on the artist’s own legs. Each of them has the same pose, with their Plexiglas legs akimbo, but they are also unique, possessing their own themes and embellishments. Some are themed on famous individuals, some on common phrases, and some on lifestyle cultures and pastimes including ‘exotic’ foods or smoking. Sexy and funny, the Leg Chairs toy with our experience of domestic furniture. (NH)