From April 1–30 Times Square’s Midnight Moment will present in Wacissa (2019). Artist Allison Janae Hamilton upends the world, plunging viewers directly into a series of rivers in her home region of North Florida. The rivers are linked through the Slave Canal, named for the enslaved people who were forced to dig it out in the 1850s to transport cotton through the Florida panhandle. As the camera moves through the connected waterways, it drags the viewer along, upside-down and underwater, past wildlife as well as fallen trees and other debris left from a hurricane that devastated the region in 2018. Although the river’s inverted landscape is beautiful, we are at the mercy of forces both natural and man-made: the speed of Hamilton’s unseen kayak, the turbulent currents, and the drifting plant matter that impedes the lens. The resulting experience is at once dreamlike and entirely real, sometimes peaceful and sometimes jarring, creating the sense that we are being pulled beneath the surface, never to emerge.
Hamilton’s work explores culture through landscape and locality, fusing land-centered folklore and personal family narratives to address the social, political, and environmental concerns of today’s changing Southern terrain, including land loss, displacement, environmental justice, and the impact of climate change on communities. By fusing land-centered folklore and personal family narratives, she calls to the relationship between place and person, life and the land. Wacissa brings the beauty and danger of nature to the screens each night at midnight in Times Square. Within this context, it questions our relationship to our surroundings and evokes the shared environmental concerns that also face New York as a city surrounded by water.
Viewers in Times Square are invited to sync their phones to the underwater sounds of Wacissa via QR codes, which will be displayed throughout Father Duffy Square.
Coinciding with the presentation of Wacissa, Marianne Boesky Gallery will present A Romance of Paradise, Allison Janae Hamilton’s inaugural solo exhibition with the gallery. For A Romance of Paradise, Hamilton will present new photographs, videos, and sculptural works that highlight the artist’s ongoing exploration of interwoven themes such as environmental justice, folklore and mythologies, and the traditions of communities living in vulnerable landscapes within the rural American South. A Romance of Paradise will be on view March 27 – April 24, 2021 at the gallery’s 507 West 24th Street location in New York.
Allison Janae Hamilton (b. 1984, Kentucky) is a visual artist working in photography, video, sculpture, installation, and taxidermy. Hamilton has exhibited at museums and institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, The Jewish Museum, Fundación Botín (Spain), the Brighton Photo Biennial, and the Istanbul Design Biennial. MASS MoCA hosted her first solo museum show, PITCH. Hamilton was a 2013-2014 Fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program, sponsored by the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Marianne Boesky Gallery was established in 1996 in New York City. Since its inception, the gallery’s mission has been to represent and support the work of emerging and mid-career international artists of all media.
Wacissa (2019) Image courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York and Aspen. © Allison Janae Hamilton