Bookshelf of the Week: Hans-Peter Feldmann’s ‘Bookshelves’

Hans-Peter-Feldmann500

Currently running at the 303 Gallery, New York, until 17 October 2009, is an exhibition by German artist Hans-Peter Feldmann. And one of his exhibits, Bookshelves (1999), is the focus of this week’s Bookshelf of the Week.

Bookshelves is a life-size 5-panel photograph, showing Feldmann’s own bookshelves at his home in Düsseldorf. I could get all wordy and pretentious and try to explain the inner-workings and subliminal meaning of Bookshelves myself, but as I’m no expert I’ve got an extract of the press release to do that for me. Not surprisingly however, one probably needs to read it 3 or 4 times in order to get the gist of it (I know I did :)):

As an artist renowned for using found and discarded objects of others, “Bookshelves” is a rare look at the personal world of a voyeur through the looking glass. The dialectical tension between the banality of the shelf itself and its physical size becomes paramount, as there is a counter intuitive ruse in showing an everyday object shown at a grandiose scale. This idea, however, is unexpectedly met with the fact that the everyday object exists in actuality at the same size. Feldmann mocks photography’s promise of a replica of reality, as the obvious impossibility of browsing a fake library (even at life size) becomes an endearingly cruel gag.

It may well be impossible to browse a fake library, but at least one has the pleasure of a voyeuristic gawp at the books that grace a contemporary artist’s library – even if one can’t flick through them.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).

Comments

  1. I know that I would feel compelled to read the titles of every book on those shelves. It may well turn out to be the longest time I would ever spend in front of a single work of art!

  2. Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
    says:

    Great minds indeed Kristen. That was the first thing that came into my head when I saw the shot.

  3. Now that’s beautiful.

  4. I know that I would feel compelled to read the titles of every book on those shelves. It may well turn out to be the longest time I would ever spend in front of a single work of art!