Untitled (mirror)


Glass mirror with wood and plaster frame, fabric

191.8 × 96.5 × 29.2 cm (75 1/2 × 38 × 11 1/2 in.)

A large drapery of dark fabric, a soiled and torn veil, whose mesh is also reminiscent of tulle or netting, covers the surface of a gilded mirror, with highly ornate decoration, of which only the exposed ends provide a glimpse of its splendour. These materials of precarity or opulence are anything but trivial, just as the concealment of the mirror's reflective power is significant. The veil in fact annihilates the specular experience, and its paradoxical power as well: if it were not deactivated by this staging, the mirror would continue to reflect the image of a false reality, a reality inverted under the effect of this Western decorum, from a Western point of view. From the point of view of African mystics and traditions, the covered mirror also loses its power—shamanic, divinatory, memorial—to reveal ghosts such as those of ancestors, to reveal the truth. A work of opposites, Untitled (mirror) exudes an unsettling poetry and a disturbing beauty.

David Hammons creates compositions of objects through which he contributes to “founding an iconography of the precarious world.” While Duchamp is a primary reference for him, Hammons seeks out objects for their singular cultural significance and forces us to confront “whose ‘ordinary' these were and how that has meaning and matters,” to quote Elena Filipovic. The artist's voice creates turbulence, it is both that of an oracle of the racial and identity cracks at work in society, and that of an aesthete, skilfully playing with art history.

This work was presented for the first time in 2021 by the Pinault Collection in the inaugural exhibition of the Bourse de Commerce, entitled "Ouverture".