For the Financial Times, Harriet Baker interviews Turner Prize nominee Anthea Hamilton. Hamilton came to prominence in the US last year after her very popular exhibition at SculptureCenter titled “Lichen! Libido! Chastity!”, which famously featured a giant gold sculpture of a man’s butt. Read Baker and Hamilton in partial below, in full via Financial Times.
Her works in this year’s Turner Prize exhibition, originally in Lichen! Libido! Chastity!, her first solo exhibition in the US at Long Island City’s SculptureCenter, are a case in point: a 10-foot high sculpture of a man’s buttocks, originally a design for a doorway to a 1970s Manhattan apartment block; a remake of a 1997 Moschino “brick” suit; a series of chastity belts; a lichen-covered boot. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find references, in the buttocks, to the New York-based Italian designer Gaetano Pesce and the Italian film-maker Pier Paolo Pasolini and, in the chastity belts, to Hector Guimard, designer of the Paris Métro.
There’s a tension between ambiguity and historical specificity here. Though many visitors may not be aware of all the references at play, Hamilton is keen for people to get their facts straight. She’s irked by the nickname which has been given to her realisation of Pesce’s buttocks in the press and on social media: the “golden bottom”.
“I would feel disappointed if something was misunderstood,” she says. “It’s not golden. It’s a sculpture of an Asian man, and so I find it problematic that there’s a lack of ability to see something which isn’t the white body, the assumption that it’s simply another material and not another ethnicity.”
By resurrecting Pesce’s design in a new context, Hamilton has invited contemporary issues of race and sexuality, so that her final work is both an homage and a political statement. This meeting point between the historical reference and contemporary cultural moment characterises much of her work.’"
*Image: Anthea Hamilton pictured at Bloomberg Space, London for her 2013 exhibition ‘Let’s Go’ © Valerie Sadou