Simon Lewandowski, 100 Things With Handles (2008)Posted: August 19, 2014
When confronted with a work of contemporary art, it is common to look for a handle. But it is not always easy to get to grips with an abstract sculpture or an assemblage.
You could go to the press release. After all, that’s what a reviewer will do. But then every so often a piece comes along which nullifies the various texts surrounding it.
Such is the case with Lewandowski’s work. It has 100 handles, and so offers 100 points of theoretical contact. They give his assorted items of bric-a-brac an unruly personality.
None of the handles seem to fit. Many clasp objects with no clear function, many are superfluous, and they are all incongruous in some way. Too big, too small, too weird.
For example, he’s screwed a plastic briefcase handle onto a copy of history’s most enduring piece of art criticism: The Lives of the Artists by Giorgio Vasari.
It gives the seminal book a workmanlike appearance. Rather than a dusty tome, it is here an industrious tool. But at the same time, this is absurd. It looks like satire.
There’s also a handle on a colourful globe. This looks like it once belonged to a plastic bucket, as if you might take planet Earth with you to the beach. That’s pretty escapist.
Elsewhere there’s a handle on a giant letter K, which reads to these eyes like a reference to Kafka, who also encourages yet defies the grasp of critics and onlookers.
So the handles hold you, rather than the other way round. They draw you in and sustain your interest as you look around the many curious items in this corner at APT Gallery.
This is a complex installation. You could write a crit about each of the 100 items. They might fill a book, onto which you might propose the artist graft a further handle.
It would be a handle on 100 written handles on 100 actual handles. There is something already quite all-consuming about this series which seems like it could go on forever.