David Hammons Ball Print

David Hammons, Icestallation invitation card (recto), 1986, paint on paper, JAM via MoMA Library

A few months ago artist David Horvitz was looking into a story of one of his artist neighbors who knew David Hammons back in the LA day. While poking around for some corroboration, I realized this invitation to a 1986 Hammons show at JAM was only and ever published in Elena Filipovic’s 2019 Afterall One Work: Bliz-aard Ball Sale.

Filipovic’s researcher, Alhena Katshof pulled the invitation out of MoMA Library’s legendary Ephemera File, where it was scanned for the first time, I learned, by legendary librarian David Senior.

Anyway, the invitation is a silvery painted postcard with a hand-stamped ball, and a date, 3/13/83. One of the very few other examples of the invitation known to exist, along with the show’s terse press release, mention 2/13/83, so perhaps this one is an error. The show, Icestallation, consisted of a dingy 3-year-old snowball in a used and altered freezer, set amidst the detritus of JAM’s gallery renovation. As printed on the verso, the show was in April/May, so the date, presumably, was the snowball’s birthday? And so the date of Hammons’ Bliz-aard Ball Sale action?

Without contemporary recollections of the invitation’s production, Filipovic speculated, based on the size, that Hammons might have used a silver-painted tennis ball to imprint them. I think the seams on a tennis ball disqualify it, though. I’ve spent time trying to identify a similarly sized, seamless, and fuzzy-enough ball Hammons could have used. A round sponge seems like the easiest, but is it the most Hammons-ian? I’ve done the same exercise with Hammons’ favored printmaking medium—his own body—to imagine what might reliably produce a few hundred unperturbed, round imprints. Because it’s not a ball. So a knee? A calf? A cutout and a buttcheek? Is it even actually printed, not stenciled?

Previously, related, silvery, printed: David Hammons’ Spade, Again