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Face to Face 53

Not on view

Face to Face 53

Artist: Ann Hamilton (American, born 1956)

Date: 2001
Medium: Ink on paper
Overall: 3 1/2 × 10in. (8.9 × 25.4cm)
Markings: recto, lower left (graphite): 3/3; lower center (graphite): Face to Face. 53; lower right (graphite): Ann Hamilton 2001
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 2003.4.4
Label Text
Updated Version:

For this project, Ann Hamilton took a series of unusually made photographs, using her mouth as a pinhole camera. It’s an unconventional process, to say the least.

The mouth, Hamilton says, is the “place where speech exits the body,” but here becomes transformed into method for recording images, like sight. And, due to the shape of the open mouth during the exposure process, these photographs take the shape of an eye.

Hamilton describes these face to face images as “a trace presence of standing or sitting ‘face to face’ with a person or landscape [which] becomes the pupil in the eye shape created by one's mouth, much the same way as one sees a tiny image of oneself in the reflection of another person’s pupil.”

Mary E. Murray
Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Ann Hamilton's artwork investigates the interface between our perceptions of the world and how we reveal our interior selves to the world. While language is a dominant form of human expression, Hamilton is fascinated by cognition through multiple senses and through the body. She has stated:

"I'm very interested in the hierarchies of our habits of perception, and how …we trust [words to] have more legitimacy than other kinds of information or ways of knowing. I think that I'm just trying to take this access and tilt it, so that the felt-quality of the words is equal to, but not dominant over, other kinds of sensory perceptions."

To this end, Hamilton created a series of images made from a pinhole camera held in her mouth. In this hyper-visual world, she finds that "eyes have become voracious like mouths." Hamilton describes the process: "I have made a set of pinhole cameras that fit in my mouth. So the act of speaking is like the act of letting light enter my mouth [or the act of seeing] … As I open my mouth I am exposing film. "

Hamilton's Portal series document herself looking at a mirror while in the Face to Face series she photographs other persons, places, and objects.

© Ann Hamilton