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APEX: Sam Hamilton

Mar 25, 2017 - Oct 22, 2017
8:00 am to 5:00 pm
1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR
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Standard Candles


For the summer 2017 APEX exhibition, the Portland Art Museum presents a body of work by Sam Hamilton, in his first solo exhibition in the United States. Originally from Aotearoa (New Zealand), Hamilton has recently made Portland his home. Describing his practice as interdisciplinary, or “non-disciplinary,” Hamilton flows between film, music, performance, and installation.

Connecting several bodies of work, Hamilton has chosen to title the exhibition Standard Candles. The title is drawn from the astronomical term for a class of objects whose distances can be computed by comparing their observed brightness with their known luminosity.

Apple Pie (Trailer) by Sam Tam Ham

The Museum’s APEX exhibition will premiere Hamilton’s feature-length film Apple Pie. Filmed in 16mm and transferred to HD, Apple Pie is a film made of a suite of 10 works loosely combined to create a conceptual and aesthetic experience of the cosmos and our solar system. An unusual rhythm takes hold in this visually arresting film. Soundtracks vary between the works, and images are a constant flux of textures. As a whole, the nonlinear film takes viewers on a journey expanding our sense of time and our understanding of the evolutionary agency of civilization. The ten works include: Pluto, Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune. During the run of the film, viewers begin to embrace a semblance of a perspective laid out in cosmic time. The title Apple Pie playfully comes from a popular quote by astronomer Carl Sagan: “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

“Dear Kenny G” by Sam Hamilton

Three additional short films will be exhibited including a minimal installation that humorously points to question historical hierarchies of colonial culture, patriarchy, ecology, and the artist’s labor.

“It is an exciting moment to look at Hamilton’s work just upon the completion of his film Apple Pie and in context with his other body of work,’ said Grace Kook-Anderson, the Museum’s new Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art, who chose Hamilton for her first exhibition in the APEX series focused on Northwest-based artists. “He touches on some very looming global concerns while simultaneously directing us to its many splendors. It is an exciting kick-off to the new series of APEX programs as it considers emerging and mid-career artists who are less familiar to the Northwest viewers.”

Apple Pie will screen at the Whitsell Auditorium on Saturday, April 1, at 2 p.m. The screening is co-presented with the Northwest Film Center as part of the Northwest Tracking series, an ongoing series focusing on the work of independent filmmakers living across the Northwest.

About the artist

Sam Hamilton (b. 1984) considers his practice to be fundamentally interdisciplinary, or rather “non-disciplinary.

“I prefer to consider my practice in terms of it being an ecology,” he says. “No section, be it from music or film, walk or cooking, thinking or constructing is independent of each other. They are rooms to occupy, windows to look out from, tools, and subsets of tools to use.”

Whichever metaphor fits best, Hamilton’s formal practice does embrace music, composition, sound art, film and video, performance, sculpture and installation, photography, writing, and curatorial projects.

Hamilton’s global reach is similarly expansive, including spending months in the Amazon jungle in Brazil, Colombia, and Peru field recording and researching intersections between sound, compositional theory, and ecology. He regularly composes and tours with the internationally acclaimed choreographer Lemi Ponifasio/MAU Dance Company in addition to touring his own music. Hamilton’s independent and collaborative work have led the artist to itinerant practices in Finland, Japan, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Australia, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, Samoa, Mexico, Germany, Russia, and New Zealand.

Hamilton is from Aotearoa (New Zealand) and currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

APEX is an ongoing series of exhibitions of Northwest-based artists, curated by Grace Kook-Anderson, The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art.