David Hammons. Global Fax Festival

1 june, 2000 - 6 november, 2000 /
Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Madrid
Exhibition view. David Hammons. Global Fax Festival, 2000
Exhibition view. David Hammons. Global Fax Festival, 2000

The work of artist David Hammons (Springfield, USA, 1943), which begins in the Seventies, has been characterised by its commitment towards civil rights and its link to the Black Power movement in the United States - the defence of the rights of black people. Hammons commonly questions the separation between public and private spaces through an aesthetic with influences from Minimalism, Arte Povera and the school of Zen.

In this exhibition, in the Palacio de Cristal, the artist provides the public with nine fax numbers corresponding to nine receivers installed in the ceiling of the Palacio. When messages sent from anywhere in the world are received they fall from the top of the space, progressively landing and filling up the floor. The project, Global Fax Festival, is used by Hammons to draw on the parallel between the surroundings, where the leaves of the trees in the Retiro park follow the same path. One of his intentions for the exhibition, created especially for the Palacio de Cristal, is to minimally involve the building's architecture, which he himself defines as being like “a sacred cathedral”. This sacrosanct dimension does not only belong to the spaces, but also the materials and objects and is a constant in his work.

Among the faxes received over the five months of the exhibition, there are also newspaper stories, adverts, drawings, artist dossiers, obituaries, letters, declarations of love, collages, social statements, messages for David Hammons, instructions on origami techniques, famous phrases and proclamations, graphic humour, poems, short stories and book excerpts, music scores, photos of people, puzzles, slogans, etc., all of which demonstrate the boundless diversity of possible expression through paper. The sounds in the inside of the Pabellón de Cristal, the trill of the birds in the park, the noise of the fax machine and the falling paper, are equally part of the installation and fulfil the artist's intentions.

Moreover, five days before its official closure the exhibition includes a concert by Butch Morris, a preeminent figure in contemporary classical music, improvisation and jazz. The American composer performs an improvisation combining sampled recordings and the live sounds from the surroundings. One hour before sunset, the sounds are displaced, with all the musicians participating in the concert by playing collectively from their designated places until one hour after sundown, when they change their positions once more.

A selection of six hundred messages received over the course of the exhibition make up the catalogue of this example of Fax-Art, falling somewhere between Mail Art and Net-Art.

Exhibition´s details

Organized by: 
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía y Fundación Escena
Alicia Chillida y Mireia Sentís
David Hammons