First Look: Anthea Hamilton’s ‘The Squash’ at Tate Britain

From 22 March to 7 October 2018 Tate Britain will be unveiling The Squash, an immersive installation combining performance and sculpture created by 2016 Turner Prize nominee Anthea Hamilton. Renowned for her bold, often humorous works which incorporate references from the worlds of art, design, fashion and popular culture, the artist brings her witty humor and sensitive intelligence in the grand space of the Duveen Galleries.

Supported by Sotheby’s, and created for the annual Tate Britain Commission, The Squash has transformed the heart of Tate Britain into an elaborate stage for a continuous 6-month performance of a single character, dressed in a colourful squash-like costume, who will embody the spirit and aims of the exhibition by playing with the space and architecture of the gallery. Evolving from the artist’s interest in a found photograph, for which the original source has since been lost, Hamilton’s work aims to create a unique imaginative liaison between the performance itself and the viewer: with no source, no barriers and no rules applied both to the performer and its audience, a white tiled floor where the squash-like creature can move and exist in its own terms, it’s up to the audience imagine history and intention, background and motivations.

Hamilton has designed seven costumes in collaboration with Creative Director Jonathan Anderson at the fashion house LOEWE, that incorporate the colours and shapes of varieties of squash or pumpkin. Performers will be selecting a costume each day, informing and reflecting their individual presentation of the character as they inhabit the space. By challenging the passive fruition of art and refusing hierarchies both in the interaction between audience and artwork, artwork and space and audience and space, Hamilton’s work dismantles structures and playfully questions both the ideas of performance and art itself, creating an immersive space where feelings and imagination drive the audience into a space of freedom and commonality, active visual storytelling and sensory experiences.

Nothing stays the same and nothing is predictable. Performers and viewers explore and inhabit the space, molding their experience and perception by interacting (or not interacting) with each other, producing a unique piece of art made of unrepeatable moments and decisions.

‘Tate Britain Commission 2018: Anthea Hamilton’ is curated by Linsey Young, Curator of Contemporary British Art, Tate, with Sofia Karamani, Assistant Curator of Contemporary British Art, Tate. Image credit: Tate photography (Seraphina Neville).

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