Artist Talk at Hampshire College: Gordon Hall

Stephanie Greene '15

Contributing Writer

On Feb. 18, Gordon Hall, an interdisciplinary Brooklyn artist, gave a talk at the Jerome Center at Hampshire College. Hall graduated from Hampshire in 2005, later receiving an MFA in fiber and material studies at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011. Hall is currently the director of the Center for Experimental Lectures and has presented work at the Sculpture Center, the Kitchen, Movement Research, EMPAC and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Their most recent work has been exhibited at Night Club in Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum, White Columns, Kent Fine Art, Foxy Production and Chapter, New York. Hall’s work draws from a history of minimalism, abstraction and their own experience in classical dance. Their practice seeks to understand the relationships between objects and question how materiality can relate to social and political transformation.

Hall’s lecture, despite coinciding with Smith’s Rally Day, attracted a large audience. Prior to the talk, Hall warned that their speech was experimental and, for the most part, unexplored territory. Hall then proceeded to read e-mail exchanges with curators pondering the meaning of their practice. In their correspondences with various members of the art world, Hall traced their interest in podiums and a re-examination of triangles.

Hall’s work has been connected to hipster-formalism, not to be confused with jank-formalism. Their work shifts between sculptures that resemble podiums to performances that look like they were made for podiums. “I am interested in ritual,” Hall said. “Ritual is precise. And then it is repeated. And it has to do with belief.” An Amherst student remarked that it wasn’t since fulfilling her non-western art history requirement in the seminar “Art and Ritual” that she had heard an artist so adamantly relate ritual to their practice.

Hall then showed photographs recalling old performances. One performance occurred in the basement of a gallery, where Hall invited performers to relate to found objects collected in the basement. Afterwards, the objects were displayed without photo documentation of the performance.

Another performance occurred in an abandoned park in Brooklyn. “I’m not so interested in documentation,” stated Hall in reference to a photograph on the main page of their website. “The public just happen upon the performance… and the objects retain the aura of the performance.” In addition, Hall presented documentation of a public performance from the prestigious Skowhegan artist residency. During the performance, Hall invited pedestrians to join in a series of dance movements on top of a pre-existing hexagon dug into the ground.

After the talk, a Hampshire student remarked, “Oh yes! I thought it was so remarkable. Their work really reminds me of American Apparel ads.” After seeing Hall’s sculptures in New York, an Australian performance artist said, “Omg. Coolest thing ever. Their work really checks all the boxes.” Another artist quipped, “Hall: a snooze but hot and stylish!”

Artists and students from the Five College Consortium are excited to see the progression and future of Gordon Hall’s career and success in the New York art world. Hall’s ability to turn a Robert Morris sculpture on its head with an added purple shadow is truly remarkable.