Ann Hamilton’s multi-sensory environment at New York's Park Avenue Armory (until January 6) truly awakens when the audience shows up and participates. Walking into the 55,000 foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall without expectation was a bit like walking into a frame of a storybook that animates as you animate it. Forty-two super-sized, wide planked swings dangle from 70 feet in the air, on either side of a diaphanous silk curtain that crosses the space. As one swings, which one does with gleeful childlike howling abandon, it activates pulleys that float the curtain as if in a dream. 

This happy making show, “the event of a thread,” has lots to notice if one comes down from the swing.  Ann Hamilton, who represented the US at the Venice Biennale in 1999, and spreads her wings in wide space for the first time in a decade in New York, offers enough conceptual layering for one to weave into meaning, or allow the threads to just be.  Included are a flock of caged pigeons that fly free at night, a cast of revolving readers, a writer, a singer whose nightly singing gets recorded to vinyl, the weather, radio transmissions, and three live broadcast channels.

The Park Avenue Armory has been my favorite venue in New York the last few years, as this cavernous space has served a blank canvas for exceptional, wondrous work in more mediums than one would think to name. Departing consulting artistic director Kristy Edmunds has gifted New York with an international array of inspiring awe.  

Image by terren in Virginia, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.