26 September – 2 November 2002
Antipodes began in the material poetics of David Hammons, whose presence in the international contemporary art scene is as powerful and provocative as it is elusive and evanescent. In spirited critical dialogue with the aesthetic strategies and mechanisms of modern art, yet drawing equally from anthropology and popular culture, Hammons speaks from and for his own ‘extraterritorial’ place in the world as a cosmopolitan African-American possessed of a deeply skeptical vision.
Hammons' art reveals an extreme mental and sensory alertness of the poetry and politics inherent in the stuff and transactions of everyday urban life. Observing, gathering, recombining, reframing in a complex play between act, image and language, he evinces unprecedented performances from the most seemingly banal and untalented materials. In his hands, a basketball and the city grime it collects during state-of-play becomes a highly sensitive and expressive drawing tool; the same ball that spreads a velvety gloom of varying density over paper can also travel around a pristine white room, leaving its branding trace at every point of impact. Hair clippings from the floor of a Harlem barbershop are coaxed into sharp geometry on the ‘crown’ of an inert rock to create a vivid portrait of prevailing local fashion.