PRINT Summer 2002


“IF YOU FOLLOW THE DOTS,” says David Hammons, “you’ll end up aboard the Underground Railroad—on Mars.” One is entitled to wonder about the presence of a robotic Mars rover among the images Hammons has selected for these pages. But once you note the name that NASA assigned the craft (Sojourner Truth), the question answers itself. It is useful to remember in this connection that Sun Ra is one of the artist’s favorite musicians and thinkers. “If you came from nowhere here, why can’t you go somewhere there?” Ra used to ask. And, indeed, Hammons is as concerned with the transcendent as he is with worldly social symbolism.

Like many artists, Hammons thinks about that fine line between appearance and reality. He talks a lot about metaphor, about how an object may look like a side of beef-as in Yukio Nakagawa’s Discovery, 1976—when it is in fact a compressed slab of hundreds of red tulips. This

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