Wednesday, November 10, 2010

David Hammons

David Hammons (born 1943) is an African-American artist mostly known for his works in and around New York City during the 1970s and 1980s.

Much of his work, including Spade with Chains (1973), reflects his commitment to the civil rights and Black Power movements. In this particular work, the artist employs a provocative, derogatory term, coupled with the literal gardening instrument, in order to make a statement about the issues of bondage and resistance.

Along with these cultural overtones, Hammons’s work also blurred the notions of public and private spaces, as well as what constitutes a valuable commodity. An illustration of these concepts can be seen in Bliz-aard Ball Sale (1983), a performance piece in which Hammons situates himself alongside street vendors in downtown Manhattan in order to sell snowballs which are priced according to size. This act serves both as a parody on commodity exchange and a commentary on the capitalistic nature of art fostered by art galleries. Furthermore, it puts a satirical premium on 'whiteness', ridiculing the superficial luxury of racial classification as well as critiquing the hard social realities of street vending experienced by those who have been discriminated against in terms of race or class.