Automatic hand sanitizer dispenser, gel hand sanitizer, thread
4” x 4” x 6.5”
Sanctuary is a series of interactive sculptures which change shape over the course of the exhibition. To construct the work, Hamaguchi first fills the dispenser with gel hand sanitizer. She then carefully constructs the shape of a house out of thread by using tweezers to position individual pieces of thread inside the filled dispenser; the viscosity of the hand sanitizer acts as a tool for the suspension of the thread. The figure of the house is not particularly specific but more like an imaginary, generic home inspired by the neighborhood where Hamaguchi lives in New York. During the pandemic, “home” stands as a “sanctuary” more than ever because it protects us from a virus we cannot see or predict. On the other hand, since we spend more time at home than ever before, it is difficult to maintain that the home is a sanctuary - a place of refuge or escape. Many of us are desperate to escape our homes. The notion of “home” is changing. At the same time, hand sanitizer has also become a psychological “sanctuary” for us to protect ourselves from the virus—to escape from it. In Hamaguchi’s work Sanctuary, these two symbols of the pandemic—home and hand sanitizer—merge. As viewers interact with this piece, the symbolic home floating and exclusively protected inside the hand sanitizer dispenser collapses. Just as our concept of home is changing and distorting, so the thread home within the dispenser is affected. Meanwhile, the gel hand sanitizer, which sustains the shape of the home, is deposited from the safety of inside the dispenser into the viewers’ hands outside, protecting them and conveying a “homeness” now infused.