American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989
The museum commissioned Ann Hamilton to create a site specific installation in the museum rotunda. Her work, human carriage (2009), “is a mechanism composed of two elements: book weights made from thousands of cut-up books that ascend and descend the rotunda via a pulley system, and a pair of Tibetan cymbals encased in a white silk bell carriage, which cascades down the balustrade along the rotunda spiral.”
“Human carriage is a metaphor for the power of the transmission of ideas through books, which, in the artist’s words, “leaves no material trace but which might forever change you.”
Like most shows at the Guggenheim , it makes the most sense to start at the top and walk down the ramp. The human carriage descends from the top of the museum. One person from the museum actually ties the books onto the pulley and starts the carriage moving. As a result of loading the books onto the pulley, some little bits from the books fall to floor. If you are like me, you immediately pick them up. And try to make sense of these random thoughts, which someone in the universe once put together in a coherent fashion.