Artist Profile: Anthea Hamilton

Cary Thomas gives us the low down on Anthea Hamilton and her exhibition.

24th October 2016

When asked which Turner Prize artist I would most like to write on, I turned to the obvious to help me make my decision: Google. If you Google the work of the other artists up for the prize such as Helen Marten or Michael Dean, you get your standard run of the mill Turner Prize “too dense for me to understand someone please help me” artwork. Google ‘Anthea Hamilton’ and the first image that comes up is of a giant groped bum emerging from a brick wall that looks like it’s been driven through by a lorry.

I suppose you could say I found her work somewhat eye-catching.

“People find it quite easy to have an opinion about a bottom”

Not to criticise the Turner Prize – it has had some wonderful winners – but its art can often frustrate me. I find it too inaccessible – as if it doesn’t want to be relatable or understood by anyone other than the niche few judging the Turner Prize. Hamilton’s work doesn’t feel like that to me. Its bold nature demands a response from its viewers immediately, it is extremely accessible and a wonderful piece of art to spark discussion amongst others – people find it quite easy to have an opinion about a bottom.

Hamilton’s work is unafraid. It doesn’t politely ask for your attention, it sits you down and makes you listen. Not only is it brilliantly striking and also in many cases really quite funny (I believe humour to be one of the harder emotions to evoke from someone through art) but it questions you, and makes you question yourself.

Take ‘Project for Door’ (aka the large bum in a wall) for example. I look at it and immediately snigger – why? Because bums are funny, that’s why. But then I thought about it. The large mass of brickwork reminded me of some vast urban space – a city centre or somewhere similar. Suddenly, the piece stopped being quite so funny. I made me think about cat-calling, having men follow me in their cars while I walk home in the dark alone – and yes, people groping my arse in a crowd at a gig. This work of art now felt like a stark display of all the ways I feel I am encouraged to believe that my body is an object.

“Because bums are funny, that’s why”

Yet still, I look at it, and I can’t help but chuckle. That feels like a part of the whole point for me, though. Hamilton’s work allows me to consider these more negative sides of life that frustrate, and realise that the fact that they happen is so ridiculous - it’s almost laughable. It allows me to make a joke out of objectification, and rise above those who think all I may be good for is my female form.

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