Hammons All Around Us

photo of an unnamed work David Hammons provided to The New York Times

“Sometimes I put clothes on the sculptures,” is how David Hammons revealed a previously unpublic intervention to Public Art Fund curator Daniel S. Palmer, who in turn has revealed it to us in The New York Times T Magazine.

For five or so winters, beginning around 2007, Hammons wrapped warmer clothing around a 19th century statue in Brooklyn of a formerly enslaved woman standing at the feet of a sculpture of a much more warmly dressed white abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher.

At least, that’s the photo we see, of the action we know. “I put clothes on the sculptureS.” Where are the others?

Remember, this is Hammons’ M.O. He only publicly showed his iconic Pissed Off nine years after he’d urinated on that Richard Serra sculpture. And of course, it’s iconic because Dawoud Bey photographed it.

How long will it take for us to get it through our heads that we are surrounded by David Hammons’ artworks we don’t even know about, and may only find out about years later, if we’re lucky?

Unless we can scan back through Instagram–2007? We need to look at flickr!–to see if anyone happened upon Hammons’ sculptural caregiving while walking the dog, and happened to take a picture. Some day maybe an algorithm will unearth unseen Hammonses from our global photographic record, like LIDAR mapping ancient cities in the jungle. But for now, we don’t even know who took the one photo we have.

[cf. putting little hats on Jizō in Japan]

A poignant take on the controversy surrounding public monuments [nyt]
Previously, very much related, 2018: Pissed Off: Can you hold it?
2013: Stop and Piss: David Hammons’ Pissed Off