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Working Bodies, Poignant Cloth: Materialising Histories of Labour in Ann Hamilton’s indigo blue (1991, 2007) and Ibrahim Mahama’s Occupations (2012–)

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Working Bodies, Poignant Cloth: Materialising Histories of Labour in Ann Hamilton’s indigo blue (1991, 2007) and Ibrahim Mahama’s Occupations (2012–)

Amarica, Sarah (2018) Working Bodies, Poignant Cloth: Materialising Histories of Labour in Ann Hamilton’s indigo blue (1991, 2007) and Ibrahim Mahama’s Occupations (2012–). Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

American artist Ann Hamilton (b. 1956) once described her country’s history as being guilty of the erasure of labouring bodies, and, like Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama (b.1987), she uses textiles in her installation art to poignantly reflect on histories of labour. This thesis addresses the critical connections between labour, capital, and contemporary material practices by examining Hamilton’s indigo blue (1991, 2007) and Mahama’s ongoing Occupations series (2012–), both of which utilise cloth to unearth the histories of labour in their home countries. Hamilton’s artwork comprises 6,000 kilograms of blue-collar clothing stacked into a colossal heap and reflects on the history of indigo and cotton production in the American South, and the slave labour that sustained these industries for centuries. Mahama’s work reconfigures old jute sacks, used to transport coal and cocoa in Ghana, into vast patchwork panels, then drapes them across buildings worldwide to manifest the labour behind these industries and the global demand that sustains them. Structured around these case studies and drawing primarily from material culture discourse, this inquiry negotiates the stories behind things produced, the human bodies behind globally-consumed commodities, and ultimately, the manifestation of these discussions through cloth. There is significant value in comparing Hamilton and Mahama’s artworks, not only because in both cases commodity production can be linked with socioeconomic conditions (of the United States and Ghana respectively) but because their art practices implicitly advocate for the role that contemporary artists may play in critically examining labour, past and present.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Amarica, Sarah
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Art History
Date:September 2018
Thesis Supervisor(s):Sloan, Johanne
Keywords:Contemporary art; Installation art; Textiles; Material culture; Ann Hamilton; Ibrahim Mahama; Labour
ID Code:984227
Deposited By: SARAH AMARICA
Deposited On:16 Nov 2018 14:58
Last Modified:16 Nov 2018 14:58
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