Ann Hamilton Installation at the Park Avenue Armory

Large white curtains hang from the ceiling of the Park Avenue Armory for Ann Hamilton's latest installation art

Who knew getting giddy on the swings at Ann Hamilton’s enormous installation at the Park Avenue Armory could possibly the most fun you’ll ever have ‘viewing’ art. Second only to Carsten Holler’s crazy three-story indoor slide at the New Museum, Hamilton’s hugely appealing piece called ‘The Event of a Thread’ will be in the Armory’s Wade Thompson Drill Hall through January 6. The show is as equally thrilling as it is surprisingly soothing and it belongs on your to-do list if you’re looking for something different to do over the break with friends, on a date, with kids, or even out-of-town visitors. 

Sihouette of a person on a swing in front of large white curtains at the Ann Hamilton installation art show at the Park Avenue Armory

Installation Art You Can Interact With

Ann Hamilton’s 'The Event of the Thread' does the best job we’ve seen yet of filling the armory’s massive, 55,000 square-foot space from floor to ceiling and from one end to the other. There are several components to the work, each providing a different hit on your senses. Dominating the room are the swings, 42 double-wide wooden planks which are hung from beams that look like they’re a million miles above.

These are tons of fun, and though it’s difficult to get much height in your ark unless someone to pushes you (pumping doesn’t really work), it does provide a long, smooth ride. Even the most easily-queasy folks (like us!) are unlikely to get dizzy. But the really cool thing is this: thanks to an elaborate rope-and-pulley system strung across the ceiling, the action of each swing animates the massive white curtain which divides the room, so it billows and fluffs, raises and lowers, with each ‘round trip’ passage. Lie on the floor directly beneath the curtain for maximum relaxation. Also wonderfully hypnotic: watching the intricate web of cables and rope, pulleys and counterweights, in constant motion high above.

People lie on their backs at the Park Avenue Armory show by installation artist Ann Hamilton

Readers at the Ann Hamilton installation art show infron of wooden bird cages at the Park Avenue Armory

Ann Hamilton Transforms the Wade Thompson Drill Hall

But the swings and curtain are only part of Ann Hamilton’s Armory show, ‘The Event of a Thread.’ As you enter the Drill Hall, you’re greeted by the backs of two ‘readers,’ cloaked in some sort of furry cape, who whisper into a pair of microphones the words on a seemingly endless scroll. Scattered throughout the Drill Hall, hidden inside 42 sealed paper bags, are wireless speakers broadcasting their efforts. What they’re actually saying seems beside the point (we couldn’t really understand it, anyway), but it creates a great murmuring in the vast space. Joining the readers at their front table is a flock of homing pigeons, cooing in their wooden cages. Every evening at 6:45, just before closing time, the birds are released, and they fly to their ‘night cage’ perched high on the opposite wall. Because of the participatory nature of the Ann Hamilton’s installation art, if people aren’t on the swings then curtain’s don’t billow and dance and then the enormous Park Avenue Armory isn’t filled with the constant laughter and shrieks of delight. Ann Hamilton’s ‘The Event of the Thread’ is one of those rare NYC events that we think would actually be better when it’s crowded.

Readers reciting words from a scroll at the Park Avenue Armory for Ann Hamilton's installation art show

Ann Hamilton: The Event of a Thread, at the Park Avenue Armory

Ann Hamilton’s the event of a thread, will be at the Park Avenue Armory through January 6. The entrance to the Armory is located on Fifth Avenue between 68th and 67th Streets, and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12:00 noon to 7:00 p.m. They're also open Monday December 24 and December 31but closed Tuesday December 25, Christmas Day. For more information, visit the Park Avenue Armory website.

Man and woman swinging on a swing at Ann Hamilton installation art show at the Park Avenue Armory

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