increase: Ann Hamilton/Michael Mercil
North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, North Dakota
3 August – 25 September 2003
Text replaces image and words form material in many works for this exhibition. For Brace yourself, a quote from “The Book of Job” is burned onto the surface of three plywood tablets . The oak timber of WHO lies on the floor like a casket or sarcophagus. The words carved in relief on its top refer to the Christian mystery of an incarnate God, but its purpose is not religious.
“I am a” (Buffalo) includes forty-nine, hand-painted signs arranged in a grid, where a “Bowl of Potatoes,” “President Roosevelt,” and “The Temple of Music” each occupy an equivalent physical and imaginative space. The painted surfaces of Mrs. Peter name characters from the “Tales of Peter Rabbit.” Other works invoke a social transaction or political contract. Covenant is a rusted-steel ballot box and table. Measure is an oversized, silver begging cup engraved with “please” on the outside and “thank you” on the inside.
The title for the exhibition, increase, names a collaborative work made for the occasion by Ann Hamilton and me. This work includes a projected and spinning video loop of a Shaker text, "my love is increasing," as written out by a calligrapher using a nib pen and ink. The image, rotating at speeds that varied from 2 rpm to 33 1/2 rpm, was cast across the walls of an otherwise empty mezzanine.