David Hammons

David Hammons’s work is informed by his experience as an African American, a determining factor in his sociocultural background. Setting out to counter the set image of the black body in a white-dominated society, he makes of unassuming objects such as paper bags and foodstuffs (Bags Series, 1975), snowballs (Blizaard Ball Sale, 1983), and a bucket, in his five-minute video Phat Free, based on a performance from 1995. The film begins in total darkness, the only sound a tinny clatter. The action starts two minutes in, shot in a style that is crude and blurry: we see Hammons, dressed in black, kicking a metal bucket along a street at night. Hammons plays on the term ‘kicking the bucket’ to evoke the transience of life. The bucket, an everyday object, nevertheless produces a disconcerting sound in the urban space. In the video this evolves into a musical rhythm that fractures the august atmosphere of the museum room in which the piece is typically installed.