“The past is never where you think you left it.” ― Katherine Anne Porter
Ladders represent a simple but powerful human invention. Over time, they have allowed us to build and to aspire, climbing with humble elegance towards something new. Windows are also vital metaphors of observation. They shape our vision, creating the “framework” of our world. Leaning into History takes these basic elements and creates an impossible, yet fascinating, invitation: to ascend towards the past. The Spiral building exemplifies the beauty of Tokyo’s modern sophistication. Its own façade offers a variety of textures and depth, bringing together many different windows and shifts in perception. Leaning into History brings a radically different view: a reminder of the city’s traditional architecture and the profound changes it has undergone. The structures in which we live are always revisions, never truly new. It’s hard to connect these simple wooden rectangles to the proud towers of steel and glass that shine in the contemporary cityscape, but the link is our own imagination, our common history. This installation helps us to understand that it is more interesting to remember than to forget. As often is the case in Erlich’s work, Leaning into History creates an impossible situation: a ladder propped mysteriously against
a window surrounded by nothing but air. But this piece also opens very real possibilities for the viewer, offering us the ever-present chance to reframe our world and embrace its deeper textures. From the graceful spiral of the gallery space, we can look up and lean into history, fully conscious that it is a place where we can never return.
Julia Napier, June 2017