“My pieces depict a cast of characters that are inanimate objects, toys and figurines that I find in flea markets, antique stores, and other odd places. The objects have a double existence. On the one hand they are mere appearance, insubstantial ornaments, but, at the same time, have a gaze that can be animated by the viewer, who, through it, can project the inclination to endow things with an interiority and identity. These “theatrical vignettes” are constructed as visual comments that speak of the human condition. I am interested in the simultaneity of humor and distress, banality and the possibility of meaning.” (Liliana Porter)
Porter’s photos can be read as innocent, yet Porter engages the exaggerated facial features and subtle gestures of toys to create open-ended dialogues. Empty expressions become deeply meaningful engagement when in conversation with others. As Jessica Berlanga Taylor has written, “Liliana Porter’s work exists at a remove from the anxious imagination of much postmodern art, offering hope imbued through objects, photographs, paintings, drawings, installations, graphics and videos. Despite the irony and drama in her productions, the characters in her work appeal directly to a range of emotions and states of mind – love, sadness, fear, anger, elation, humour, contemplativeness, vulnerability and fragility… Using objects collected since the late 1960s – porcelain figurines, plastic soldiers, rubber ducks, watches, candles, dolls and such like – Porter creates sensitive landscapes that suggest appealing questions: what is real and what is virtual? What if everything is a representation of something else? What happens in the space between reality and representation?”
Liliana Porter (b. Argentina, 1941, resides in New York since 1964) works across mediums with printmaking, painting, drawing, photography, video, installation, theater, and public art. Porter began showing her work in 1959 and has since been in over 450 exhibitions in 40 countries. Recent solo shows include those at El Museo de Barrio in New York City; The Perez Art Museum in Miami; ART OMI in Ghent, NY; Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA; El Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales in Montevideo; Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes Franklin Rawson in San Juan, Argentina; and Museo de Arte de Zapopan in Guadalajara, Mexico. Porter’s work was featured in the traveling exhibition Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960 – 1985 at the Brooklyn Museum, NY and the Hammer in Los Angeles, CA. In 2017 Porter’s work was included in Viva Arte Viva, La Biennale di Venezia, 57th International Art Exhibition in Italy. Additionally Porter’s work has been exhibited at El Museo Tamayo, México DF; the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; Museo de Arte Latinoamericano, Buenos Aires, Argentina; and in New York at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the New Museum. The artist’s works are held in the following public collections (among others): Tate Modern, London; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes Buenos Aires; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Museo de Bellas Artes de Santiago; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Guggenheim Museum of Art, NY; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University; Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogota, Museum of Fine Art, Houston; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; and the Daros Latinamerica Collection Zürich.
“Sometimes I create dialogues among the figures, theatrical situations. The characters act as recipients of our subjectivity. They seem not to understand, they are in a lonely space, and in a state of perplexity.
The subjects presented in these photographs are
the nature of representation itself
the displacement of context constructing new meanings
the overlapping of times and origins
the hybridization of categories
the role of the viewer”