The other sleeps in all things around
Nadia Guerroui and Phanos Kyriacou / 02 September 2021 —16 October 2021
Wonnerth Dejaco, Vienna
In his 1911 essay “The Handle,” the German sociologist Georg Simmel formulated the principle of the handle as being “the mediator of the work of art towards the world, which is nevertheless itself completely involved in the art form.” The prototypical hybridity of the handle lies in its claim not only to be able to perform the practical function, but also to make it “forceful through its appearance,” in harmony with the aesthetic effect.
This hybrid quality between function, communication, and contemplation is exploited by Cypriot artist Phanos Kyriacou in his “Common Handles” series. But there is also a play on words in Kyriacou’s use of the handle: In computer science, a handle refers to a reference value to a system resource managed by the operating system. In addition to “Common Handles,” titles such as “Low Network” or “standingfoot021” also refer to tools and structures of that technological reality which we use every day and within which we lead ever greater parts of our lives. In a kind of language game, Kyriacou takes up concepts from our digital everyday life and transfers them in a literal way into a sculptural language, turning them into objects, as it were. The central character of this operation lies in the awkwardness of this parallel movement – its simultaneous presence as abstract concepts, only indirectly familiar to us from our experience with the diverse user interfaces of a virtual world that is intangible to us, and as concrete sculptural objects that, we can experience in an immediate spatial situation. Simultaneously, these hybrids point in one direction to a virtual user experience external to them – and in the other to their physical presence in the instantaneous situation. In this way, they make the absurdity of our hybrid living conditions, which always takes place between the immediacy of human perception and its technological-linguistical mediation, accessible to a physical-spatial experience. At the same moment, Kyriacou’s works also refer to the architectural space, play with the historicity of the materials used – for example, where the traditional material terracotta meets the contemporary material polyurethane –, and appear like ciphers of a mysterious sculptural language. In the network between the works that communicate with each other, in the successive discovery of this multiplicity of aspects and functions, a complex space of experience opens up that goes far beyond a binary idea of the hybrid.