Podcast: On Hybrid Forms and the Materiality of Language at the New York Public Library

Interviews, News Section, Reviews

March 13th, 2014




Images above from It Is Almost That: A Collection of Image+Text Work by Women Artists & Writers (Siglio, 2011). Clockwise from top left: Fiona Banner, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Alison Knowles and Dorothy Iannone. All works copyrighted by the artists.



It Is Almost That: Ann Hamilton, Jane Hammond and Lisa Pearson at the New York Public Library


March 5, 2014


On March 5, artists Ann Hamilton and Jane Hammond conversed with Siglio publisher Lisa Pearson about the myriad and fascinating ways in which their works and practices engage language and the literary. Both artists contributed works to It Is Almost That: A Collection of Image+Text Works by Women Artists & Writers, and the conversation began by delving into those works, the shape of the stories they tell, and the process of “translating” them to be read and experienced on the page.

Conceived and organized by Arezoo Moseni, and in its fifth year, Art and Literature Series events bring forth pollinations across the literary and visual arts with readings and discussions by acclaimed artists, authors and poets. Official New York Public Library Event Announcement here.




Because the frame is image+text, we’re reminded that all of us generally do more. Female artists don’t just stay in their disciplines; we experience, we forage, we play. Intuitively and practically speaking, It Is Almost That is, in effect, a handbook. It, by presenting female art history, shows us how to be an artist. —Eileen Myles

Supremely imaginative in their use of word and image, the twenty-six hybrid works collected in It Is Almost That are steeped in narrative play and subversion, inviting readers to engage in multiple modes of reading. It Is Almost That (edited by Lisa Pearson, Siglio, 2011) eschews traditional categories and instead creates a constellation in which unexpected connections can emerge. It features substantial excerpts or the works in their entirety—many previously unpublished or long out-of-print—by artists and writers including Eleanor Antin, Louise Bourgeois, Fiona Banner, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Bhanu Kapil, Adrian Piper, Charlotte Salomon, Hannah Weiner, and Unica Zürn.



ANN HAMILTON has long been interested in language, its elusiveness, materiality and mutability as well as in the boundaries and codes that inhibit, inhabit, and inscribe the body. Her multi-sensory installations are site-specific, responding to the social history of each place and attentive to the ways in which those spaces shape the viewer’s experience and cultivate meaning. The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she was chosen to represent the U.S. at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999. Her works have been installed and exhibited at many major museums in the U.S. and abroad, including recently the event of a thread at Park Avenue Armory and stylus at The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in St. Louis. Her public commissions include permanent works for several libraries. She completed her MFA in Sculpture at Yale University and has been teaching at Ohio State University since 2001. (Image below from Hamilton’s contribution to It Is Almost That: “A Floating Weft / Woven.”)


JANE HAMMOND conducts inquiries into the construction of meaning through her paintings, printmaking, and photocollages. In one sustained series, she uses an appropriated visual lexicon of 276 images gleaned from diverse sources (books on biology, phrenology, and physics; tattoos, stamps, and cartoons; etc.), reconfiguring public information into the private space of the imagination. Much of her work has a literary inflection, particularly another series of paintings made in response to titles that poet John Ashbery wrote for her. Between 2003 and 2013, she created Fallen a memorial to US soldiers killed in Iraq in which thousands of unique handmade leaves were inscribed with the name of every individual who died there. Hammond received an MA and an MFA from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Her work has been exhibited widely in solo and group shows in the U.S. and abroad. (Image below from Hammond’s contribution to It Is Almost That: “Fallen.”)




LISA PEARSON is the founder and publisher of Siglio, an independent press in Los Angeles dedicated to publishing uncommon books that resist categorization and live at the intersection of art and literature. She has edited several titles in addition to It Is Almost That, including Torture of Women by Nancy Spero, The Nancy Book by Joe Brainard (co-edited with Ron Padgett) and a forthcoming collection of works by Dorothy Iannone, You Who Read Me With Passion Now Must Forever Be My Friends. In just five short years, Siglio titles have garnered high praise from the The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, London Review of Books, The New Yorker, NPR, Bookforum, The Believer and BOMB magazine, among dozens of other media. An interview with Pearson about gender, feminism and publishing can be read at VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts.