Anthea Hamilton: Ibid Projects

Article excerpt

"Figaro" is a jewelers' term for a weave of chain in which every fourth link is heavier than the others. It is also the title of a tall, thin sculpture (all works 2006) by young London artist Anthea Hamilton, consisting of four elements. A small heart-shaped locket dangles on a figaro-patterned chain; this necklace hangs from a long curved twig. The twig is held in place by a small wad of clay attaching it to a chair leg. At the bottom, the fourth part, a metal clamp, functions like a mighty foot to visually connect the whole construction to the floor. Bottom-heavy and gradually tapering from the thick, functional clamp on the ground to the tiny, poetic heart suspended in midair, fragile Figaro is delicately balanced, perpetually on the verge of toppling over. Its fall would be buffered, however, by the expanse of small white porcelain tiles covering the gallery floor and parts of the walls.

With its gentle bend and the cheap jewel forever proffered at the top, Figaro suggests a small, quivering suitor, tentatively offering a banal love token. It is a distinctly romantic work, and somehow figurative despite bearing no literal resemblance to the body. It might suggest a frail human figure, but also an emaciated sapling or a piece of junk. Barely stable in its construction, it occupies the floor confidently. Similarly, Hamilton's airy, dramatic hanging sculpture Untitled (Odile) balances almost by miracle. Dangling from the ceiling like a giant Edie Sedgwick earring, it too reaches the floor, in this case weightlessly, on a length of coiled rope. Combining elastic, thin, curved elements and four horizontal bars, the work's emphasis is on the six billiard balls thickly tied to the parallel rods, which look like notes floating on a musical staff. …