Philippe Vergne discusses David Hammons’ Flight Fantasy (1978)
Philippe Vergne, September 1999
In the same way that I chose Paul Thek, because I think he has, first, a strong aesthetical statement in the work and strong political statement in the work and historical something, which is beyond the work, I think this is also what gives David Hammons all the complexity of his work. First, if you speak just about the aesthetic point of view, he is totally addressing practices with good, fine roots in Arte Povera, in the way of art with artists dealing with trash, found objects, and aestheticizing them. ... So, this work, Flight Fantasy, is done with a piece of a vinyl record, his own hair, I think arrows. It's ... is very, very elegant. But, in the same way, all the complexity of David Hammons' work is that he's pushing the aesthetic of this object very far. It's always very elegant; but in the same way when you look at the details of the piece, it's music. It's hair. It's the hair of an African-American artist. Then, he's pushing an agenda which would be the stereotype of African-American people or how African-American artists are perceived. He's distorting all of these stereotypes to produce something which is a critique of the way this community has been seen. David Hammons is now, I think, fifty-five years old. He's been working since the 1970s, always on the periphery. Now, he's becoming one of the most famous artists in the American art scene, but still willing to remain on the periphery.
Copyright 1999 Walker Art Center