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Ann Hamilton
Free Library of Philadelphia, reading 2, June 2006
21½” x 9”
Commissioned by The Print Center
© Ann Hamilton, 2006

Ann Hamilton photographed Bloomsday participants at the Rosenbach Museum and Library, readers at the Free Library of Philadelphia, and liturgical services at Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church and Old Saint George’s Church. For Hamilton, these acts of quiet, personal reading and ritualized group speaking at prominent cultural, religious and civic sites provided opportunities to explore issues of voice and text, public and private, secular and spiritual in our society. In both churches, Hamilton placed a set of rectangular cameras near the altar and pews to capture the congregation’s movements within the space during the service. The same cameras were placed directly in front of people at the Free Library to record their silent acts of reading. The day after the exhbition opens Hamilton will place a 19th Century round table in the center of Carpenters’ Hall and invite five groups to read a text of their choosing in unison. The act will be recorded with a round pinhole camera with multiple apertures, custom-made for this project. The final images will be included in the exhibition a few days later.

As can be seen in the image of the reader at the Free Library above, Hamilton’s images required an exposure time of 20-40 minutes which resulted in blurred, ghostlike renderings of the human subjects.  The durational aspect of making images with a camera obscura appeals to Hamilton’s long-standing interest in representing process, experience and time.

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