In the first book-length study on David Hammons’s Bliz-aard Ball Sale (1983), Elena Filipovic examines this most furtive work from the artist’s elusive oeuvre in the context of Hammons’s complex relationship to exhibition-making, art history, and the art world. Frequently cited, rabidly influential, and yet likely not seen by most of the artists, writers, or curators interested in his work (including Filipovic), the details of Hammons’s now mythical performance remain fuzzy—appropriately so for an artist who consistently questions the stability of the object. Using Hammons’s mordant performance as a means to understand and examine his larger practice within the context of the “dematerialization” of the art object in the 1960s and 1970s, and the material thing’s return with a vengeance in the 1980s, Bliz-aard Ball Sale reveals the artist’s particular brand of political, social, and cultural critique to be the backbone of a radical artistic oeuvre that transforms notions like author, performance, public space, high culture, and the exhibition into categories that shift and dissolve, much like slowly melting snowballs.

Elena Filipovic is a writer, art historian, and senior curator at WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels. She co-curated the 5th Berlin Biennial (2008) with Adam Szymczyk, and co-edited The Biennial Reader: Anthology on Large-Scale Perennial Exhibitions of Contemporary Art (Hatje Cantz, 2010) with Marieke van Hal and Solveig Øvstebø. She has curated a number of traveling retrospectives, including “Marcel Duchamp: A Work that is not a Work of ‘Art’” (2008–2009), “Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Specific Objects without Specific Form” (2010–2011) and “Alina Szapocznikow: Sculpture Undone, 1955-1972,” with Joanna Mytkowska (2011–2012). She has also organized solo exhibitions with artists such as Leigh Ledare, Klara Lidén, Lorna Macintyre, Melvin Moti, Tomo Savic-Gecan, and Tris Vonna-Michell, and group shows including “Évocateur” (2012), “The Other Tradition” (2010), “Anachronism” (2007), and “Let Everything Be Temporary” (2007). Filipovic has, since 2007, been tutor of theory/exhibition history at De Appel post-graduate curatorial training program and advisor at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Her writings have appeared in numerous artists’ catalogues as well as in Afterall, frieze, Kaleidoscope, and Mousse.