David Hammons: Bliz-aard Ball Sale
One wintry day in 1983, David Hammons peddled snowballs of various sizes. He laid them out in graduated rows and spent the day acting as obliging salesman. Calling the unannounced street action Bliz-aard Ball Sale, he inscribed it into a body of work that, from the late 1960s to the present, has used a lexicon of discreet actions and consciously "black" materials to comment on the nature of the artwork, the art world and race in America.
Although Bliz-aard Ball Sale has been frequently cited and is increasingly influential, it has long been known only through scant descriptions and a handful of photographs. In this engaging study, Elena Filipovic collects a vast oral history of the ephemeral work, uncovering rare images and documents, and giving us singular insight into an elusive artist who has made an art of making himself difficult to find.
With the frostbitten persistence of an arctic explorer, Filipovic "stalks" the various sites and syncopations that make up the work, providing new interviews with Hammons and his collaborators; first-hand accounts of the sale; lively analysis of the photographic and archival record, much of it never previously brought to light; as well as tales of the snowballs’ elusive afterlives. [Bruce Hainley, 2018]