Hatch (2007)

<!–a series on antony gormley and the origin of "tactile burden", in no particular order–>

A recurring theme in Gormley's work is the notion of the (surveillant) gaze, which makes sense given his interest in the body and the architecture of the city. The gaze is nowhere more apparent than in one of his most recent sculptures, Hatch. Because of the nature of the work, only two people were allowed at a time to be inside the room that constituted the field of the work itself. (This generated the contemporary form of the queue in which nobody is quite certain why one is queueing — the queue "legitimizes" the work in and of itself.) Because of the long queue, people were very curious and keen to get a glance at what lay inside the room.

Hatch - Courtesy of Antony Gormley

This was accomplished via the grid-like meshwork of square holes that studded the walls to allow light inside. Some of these squares extended right into the room by means of aluminum endoscopic tubes — instruments used for surgically looking deep within a body — constituting another version of the panoptic city. In this I was reminded of Virilio's "vision machine" and the "endocolonization" of the animal and social bodies.

But these holes and tubes also allow for those within to see outside, a point made abundantly clear to me when I overheard the woman ahead in the queue, after looking in to see an eyeball peering back, remarked "How dare they look back at us?"

Peer, indeed.

Not wanting to wait in the queue, some people simply walked to the doorway and looked in, but that completely misses the point of the work: at its core, Hatch is a bodily experience, a field in which one must duck, straddle, circumvent and collide with the irregular-length endoscopic tubes as they poke out of the floor, walls and ceiling.

As with many cityscapes, however, this one is not equally accessible, as a sign outside the room pointed out: "We advise that for children and wheelchair users this work is best viewed from outside."

So while Gormley problematizes the surveillance/sousveillance binary in this work, he also (perhaps unintentionally) problematizes dis/ability and the way an "ideal" body might move through the city.

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One response to Hatch (2007)

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  1. Janel Doell says:

    The work of Gormley, the 'Hatch' intrigued me instantly. I was fascinated by the work and representation he had created. From the long ‘queuing’, and built anticipation it was almost testing to see who would jump the line to peer from the outside in, and who would wait long enough to fully experience the Hatch within. This artwork is interesting because usually the power is held to the object looking in, like the concept of ‘Big Brother’s watching’ from the novel 1984. The power is in fact, the object that is looking from the inside out. In a sense, this correlates to the powerless individuals such as the children and people in wheelchairs, whose only choice is to peer in. I found it interesting how it was mentioned of the ‘ideal’ body moving through the city. This again plays on the power of the artwork. This artwork is not deemed simple. I am sure even for the person going through the cityscape of tubing, there is somewhat of a struggle. This could represent how the city embodies power and we struggle in society to maintain power.