Ann Hamilton: aeon

Art installation inside Mansueto Library dome transforms OI’s ancient figures

Ann Hamilton, recipient of the National Medal of Arts and a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, has created a new large-scale installation in the Grand Reading Room of UChicago’s Joe and Rika Mansueto Library for her project aeon, affixing to the room’s massive glass dome a series of translucent images of OI artifacts that she produced using a small flatbed desktop scanner and a handheld wand scanner. After several thousand years entombed underground, and nearly a century enclosed in the OI’s display cases, the ancient figures are illuminated and “animated” through Hamilton’s ethereal images.

In the fall of 2018, Hamilton spent a week in residency at the OI imaging hundreds of objects, mostly from Iraq and Egypt. Her photographic process was unusual; rather than a camera, she used two kinds of scanners: a small early-generation flatbed desktop scanner and a handheld wand scanner, both designed with a shallow depth of field for documents, not three-dimensional objects. To use the flatbed scanner, Hamilton placed small figures on its glass platen and scanned. In contrast, Hamilton guided the wand scanner over the surface of the objects to produce unique images, in a hybrid of gestural drawing and lensless photography. The glass ceiling of the magnificent Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, with its state-of-the-art technology and award-winning, contemporary design, gives aeon its form. High in the dome and backlit by the sun, these ancient figures seem to stare down at the viewers, deriving agency from their lofty position.

Ann Hamilton is a visual artist internationally acclaimed for her large-scale multi-media installations, public projects, and performance collaborations. Hamilton uses common materials as a means of addressing the knowledge that comes from language and touch, creating site-responsive installations for individual and collective experience. Hamilton has received the National Medal of Arts, MacArthur Fellowship, Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, NEA Visual Arts Fellowship, United States Artists Fellowship, the Heinz Award, and was selected to represent the United States at the 1991 Sao Paulo Biennial and the 1999 Venice Biennale. She received a BFA in textile design from the University of Kansas in 1979 and an MFA in Sculpture from the Yale University School of Art in 1985. Hamilton currently lives in Columbus, Ohio where she is Distinguished University Professor of Art at The Ohio State University.

Read further about aeon with UChicago News, "Art Installation inside Mansueto Library dome transforms OI’s ancient figures.”

Art Installation Location: The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, 1100 E. 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

Dates:  September 18–October 31, 2019 (extended to December 15, 2019)

Hours: The installation will be open to the general public on Saturdays from 9 to 11 a.m. Visitors without a UChicago ID can enter to see the installation by obtaining a visitor pass from the ID and Privileges Office in Regenstein Library, which is connected to the Mansueto Library.

For aeon, Krueck + Sexton Architects facilitated integration of art and architecture and served as technical advisor to Hamilton and UChicago. ER2 Image Group provided support to Hamilton’s vision in the production and installation of aeon.

Images Courtesy of Ann Hamilton Studio and Tom Rossiter.