I revisit a lot of things
Anthea Hamilton’s Mash Up at M HKA brings the audience along to experience the work which has marked her almost two-decade-long career. The exhibition lays out scenes, a white-tiled room, a forest of kimonos and even oversized leather pumpkins. Every Saturday, performers fill these scenes, engaging with materials and platforms set up for them. We entered this space with New Master Deveny Faruque, a multimedia artist.
What characterises your work?
I am an artist and I make video and installation work. I say installation because it is easy to incorporate all other media into it, and I say video because I have a strong link with cinema and film and experimental work. I think I work very much in systems so that every work leads to another. I try to invent my own language or symbols which I keep reusing.
I think I work very much in systems so that every work leads to another
Would you say you work both in the digital and physical worlds?
I don't know how, but I kind of rolled into web design as well. I used the skill for my own work, to find ways to show non-physical work on the internet. I am interested in how to relate to it, and what it means to show in a museum or not or in an art space.
I thought about this a lot while I was working here at M HKA as a student. Sitting in an exhibition space makes you think about everything that's not institutionalised, but is also related to art. It made me think about where I want to see my art, and also pushed me towards this digital nonphysical space which gave me the skill of making digital work.
What is it like to come back to the museum now to see this expo?
It's weird because I feel like a part of being an artist is having the goal of being attached to the institute, but actually, I have always felt very related to this other world, of television and pop culture, that is not this secluded art world space. The digital world is a nice way to put my work in the world world. Putting things in a museum is not really in the world. I used to feel very strongly that the institute is not my idea of success, but I haven't found a way to set myself free from this path of growth in the art world. Now that I'm older and not studying anymore, I actually feel more connected to the institute, but I don't really want to belong here either. Every now and then I will think to myself again 'I want to put my work in the world,' so I shouldn't forget that. It's weird to be here because I thought about these things so much while spending hundreds of hours in this space.
The digital world is a nice way to put my work into the world world
What did you think of the exhibition?
As a whole, the title says it for itself 'Mash Up'. it is definitely mashed up. I like to imagine it as different parts, rather than this one experience where you hop from one to another but have to piece it all together in your mind. I really relate to the way she works with so many different mediums.
Did any of Anthea Hamilton’s works stand out to you?
I feel like the most personal, or the most tactile thing that I found was the pictures in the last room. The series of naked photos, and also those two nature photographs.
I feel like the clothes offer a similar intimate feeling as well, but the photos really struck me because they feel first-hand. The scene of the kimonos had this way of working where you can make wearable art but also without such an emphasis on fashion, just crafting with other materials that you know as an artist. I think that is really cool.
I especially love all of the enlargements, the comically large fingers and the pumpkins. I also sometimes have this urge to enlarge objects and things.
The photos really struck me because they feel first hand
She incorporates a sense of playfulness in her work, do you include similar elements in your practice?
I think I use it a lot. There was this one work I saw with a checkered pattern, and I use that pattern so often, but I use it very literally, to symbolise games. I do have this tendency to make a game or something fictive and humorous. Although I sometimes talk very seriously about my work, I actually include a lot of jokes that I don't always mention when I explain my work. Just silly things, or simple shapes to laugh at something.
I think this is the most lively part of this expo. I really appreciate that it has a fun element to it, even though there may be something more serious in it as well, it is still really fun, light and enjoyable.
Do you want to make your own work light and fun?
I try to think about that a lot. Also just for myself, do not forget to enjoy what I do. I feel like there have been moments in my life when I've told myself that art is my work and my work should be serious, and I forget to enjoy it sometimes. But since I have this tendency to include jokes and games, it stops me from losing sight of that.
What did you think of the curation of the space?
They had to leave a lot of space blank to allow the performers to move within the space, which makes for an interesting experience when you see the show without performers
The first time I visited the expo, I didn’t step on the tiles that she put down in one of the rooms. In a museum, you have this feeling that you are limited here or you are limited there, but it is nice that she repeats this element of guidelines throughout the expo, by creating platforms: this is where the performer goes, this is where the artist goes, this is where the audience goes. These borders are very distinct.
I also liked that there was not so much to read on the walls, besides basic info. It felt very direct as if you are in an amusement park or some kind of playground.
In a museum, you have this idea that you are limited here or you are limited there
This exhibition is a Mash Up of Anthea Hamilton’s work throughout her entire career, what would a mashup of your practice look like?
I revisit a lot of things. I moved studios recently and moved some old work, I just couldn't throw them away. Now I'm kind of reworking them or reusing them to make other things. Eventually, symbols or shapes stay in my vocabulary and return in some other way. I think I would not be able to repeat something I did 7 years ago the way I showed it somewhere else, I'd feel distant from it. I'd love to wake up with a clean slate but my work is just a never-ending chain of thoughts.
I'd love to wake up with a clean slate but my work is just a never-ending chain of thoughts