September 9, 2016 –
July 20, 2017
This year-long research season uses the work of the artist David Hammons as a lens to think about our contemporary moment.

Our point of departure is the work of the artist David Hammons. From there, a series of open questions map out a broad thematic territory for a year-long schedule of public events: reading groups, lectures, performances, screenings, and other events explore artists and ideas that emerge as related or as relevant in productive ways.

Please join the collective conversation as it evolves over the course of the year: attend an event, consult some of the online resources, and visit the Wattis bar for additional materials.

The reading group included Kim Anno, Binta Ayofemi, Juana Berrío, Apsara DiQuinzio, Vincent Fecteau, Jacqueline Francis, Caitlin Haskell, Anthony Huberman, Tirza Latimer, Patricia Maloney, Jordana Moore Saggese, Tina Takemoto, and Robin Wright, with research assistance provided by Leila Grothe, Lisa Heinis, and Veronica Jackson.

With special thanks to David Hammons, Carmen Hammons, AC Hudgins, Lois Plehn, Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, and Connie Tilton.

Season 3: David Hammons is on our mind is curated by Anthony Huberman.

(Learn more about our research seasons here.)

David Hammons is on our mind.

'David Hammons: Five Decades,' Mnuchin Gallery, NY, 2016 (installation view) (photo: Tom Powel Imaging)
"David Hammons: Five Decades," Mnuchin Gallery, NY, 2016 (installation view) (photo: Tom Powel Imaging)

Introduction by Anthony Huberman

Spirits aren’t something you see or even understand. That’s just not how they work. They are too abstract, too invisible, and move too quickly. They don’t live anywhere, but only run by and pass through, and no matter how old they are, they are always light years ahead. They do what they want, whenever they want. And under specific circumstances, at specific times, in specific places, to specific people, for specific reasons, they make their presence known.

In the Congo Basin in Central Africa, they are called minkisi. They are the hiding place for people’s souls.

David Hammons (b. 1943) is a spirit catcher. He walks the streets the way an improviser searches for notes, looking for those places and objects where dormant spirits go to hide, and empowers them again. He knows about the streetlamps and the mailboxes where the winos hide their bottles in shame. Hammons calls it tragic magic—the art of converting pain into poetry.

(...continue reading).

From September 2016 to July 2017:

Tirza True Latimer wrote about Concerto in Black and Blue (2002); Apsara DiQuinzio wrote about the body prints; Lisa Heinis wrote about Untitled (Kool Aid Drawing) (2003-2007) and Untitled (2009-2015); Kim Anno wrote about Higher Goals (1986). We heard a recorded lecture by David Hammons, originally delivered in 1994, and a response by Philippe Vergne. Sampada Aranke led visits to see works by David Hammons in public and private collections around the Bay Area. Charles Burnett discussed and screened his film Killer of Sheep. With Kadist, Wadada Leo Smith showed his scores and talked about them with Hamza Walker. Zeena Parkins introduced a screening of archival footage of a performance by Butch Morris. With The Lab, Zeena Parkins and William Winant performed an improvised duo, and Wadada Leo Smith was joined by Ikue Mori, Anthony Davis, and Hardedge. Sampada Aranke wrote about Blind Reality (1986). Veronica Jackson wrote about Putting on Sunday Manners (1990). Jacqueline Francis and Tina Takemoto wrote about Dak'Art 2004 Sheep Raffle (2004). Juana Berrío wrote about Bliz-aard Ball Sale (1983). Tongo Eisen-Martin organized and hosted an evening of poetry and performance. Manthia Diawara gave a lecture on David Hammons (and Edouard Glissant); Fred Moten gave another lecture about Hammons (and Ralph Ellison). We hosted an evening about the color blue with short talks, films, and songs. Yuji Agematsu performed with slide projectors. We had a night of drinking and listening to music Hammons has included in some of his past works. Keyon Gaskin presented a choreographic work. And, finally, Karin Schneider performed with fog machines.

Click on the names above to read more about each one and to see/hear documentation.


A publication is available here and includes a never-before-published 1994 lecture by David Hammons, a poem by Tongo Eisen-Martin, a text by Fred Moten, and images sent by David Hammons.