Alma Allen, Not Yet Titled (all four), 2017.
Handheld is a group exhibition that explores the contemporary meaning of touch by charting artists’, designers’, and makers’ various responses to objects scaled to the hand. Including works by Alma Allen, Aldo Bakker, Kathy Butterly, David Clarke, Iris Eichenberg, Laura Fischer, Jennifer Lee, Shari Mendelson, Jonathan Muecke, Ron Nagle, Kay Sekimachi, Christopher Taylor, Anne Wilson, Thaddeus Wolfe, and Shinya Yamamura, Handheld, organized by Elizabeth Essner, will be on view May 20, 2018 to January 13, 2019.
Touch is, in many ways, our most intimate sense, and our hands are its primary agents. Hands are meant to hold lots of things: pencils, babies, heavy pieces of furniture, other people’s hands. Yet, for many of us in today’s world, the feeling in our hands that is most familiar is the easy weight of our handheld devices. Today, touch increasingly takes the form of a swipe, where sensation is often ignored in favor of access to the flat visual landscapes of our own selection—a place where we can look at imagery as much as we want, but we cannot touch. However, as we think of traditional forms for our most precious things the words of grandmothers echo worldwide, “Look but don’t touch.” This surprising parallel between the domestic and the digital offers viewers a point of departure to consider the relationship between haptic and optic, hand and eye, in contemporary life.
Handheld takes a multifarious approach—the hand as means of creation, a formal frame of reference, and for the viewer, a source of both delight and tension as they experience sensual objects in familiar domestic forms, scaled for touch, that can be looked upon but not felt.
(Photo by Sam Kahn.)