LILIANA PORTER / INTERVIEW
By Valentina Tintori
“For a work to be what we call a work of art, it must generate an idea, perhaps another work,” Liliana Porter once observed, thus delineating the sphere of her production as the possibility of an ever-recurring cycle: a reality that produces a fiction that produces a reality, with one work containing another, like Russian nesting dolls.
Liliana Porter creates a miniature simulacrum of our own position as viewer: the tiny figure also gazes intently at the artwork on the wall before her.
Porter’s experiments with sculpture allow for a fascinating dialogue between artwork and viewer. She has primarily exhibited these “theatrical stagings” of mass-produced toys and souvenirs as photographs rather than three-dimensional sculpture, making To see gold all the more intriguing.
Porter often uses the infinitive in her titles to plainly assert the action of the piece. When viewing the tiny earring that constitutes the “gold” of the work, one sees not only the figurine’s reflection but one’s own reproduced as well. The notion of repeated reproduction—and what is both lost and gained in it—has intrigued Porter for some time.
In her early Magritte series, the artist photographed reproductions of Magritte paintings from a book on the artist, often intervening in the photograph so that her presence is made known; the original Magritte paintings appear grainy and nearly indistinguishable, raising questions about representation versus reality.
The objects Porter employs “already exist…already come with a history,” and by isolating them or situating them with unusual companions (one of her most famous photographs portrays an encounter between Mickey Mouse and Che Guevara), she gives them entirely new realities and interpretations. The power of Porter’s work lies not in the individual toys, but in the relationship and the space she creates between them.
The use of a mirror or refletive surface in Porter’s work visually references the theories of Jorge Luis Borges: “Art must be like that mirror/That reveals our own face”; mirrors also allude to the looking glass in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. These two divergent influences suggest a great deal about whimsical means by which Porter discusses issues of representation.
Liliana Porter, born in Buenos Aires, has lived in New York since 1964. She was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1980. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is represented in numerous important collections. Some of the collections inlude the Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York; Museo de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Clouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal; and many others. Presently, she is a Professor of Art at Queens College, City University of New York.
An interview with Liliana:
by Valentina Tintori
Which artists have been an influence to you and your work?
Luis Felipe Noe, Giorgio Morandi, Roy Lichenstein, the Arte Povera artiss…I am sure that many more..also the Guerrilla Girls.
When did you start to work on the Paradox theme? What motivated you to choose this?
It is a subject that was there from the beginning, I was always interested in the subject of representation. I am not sure of the motivation.
Reproduction of your work is an issue, as well as the use of objects such as toys and ceramic which give a very interesting twist to the common use of materials, how do the turn from objects into subjects? Reproduction and/or simulation, either or?
I use the objects as a cast, and the illusionary space as the stage.
Considering all your art work, is there a particular piece, series or period that you have felt more connected with and why?
No. One piece leads me to the next one, and every time I feel very connected with the question I am posing.
Anything about you and your work that has not been revealed yet?
I doubt it.
(Born in Argentina, 1941. Resides in New York since 1964).
Techniques: printmaking, works on canvas, photography, video, installations and public art projects. Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1980, three New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships (1985, 1996, 1999), the Mid Atlantic/NEA Regional Fellowship (1994) and seven PSC- CUNY research awards (from 1994 to 2004).
Professor at Queens College, City University of New York, from 1991 to 2007.
Her work has been shown nationally and internationally and is represented in many public and private collections, among them:
TATE Modern Collection, London, UK;
Museum of Modern Art, New York;
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York;
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina;
Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, Venezuela;
Philadelphia Museum of Art;
La Biblioteque Nationale, Paris, France;
The New York Public Library;
Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires, Argentina;
Museo de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile;
Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogota, Colombia;
Blanton Museum, Austin, TX;
Museo del Barrio, New York;
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York;
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC;
The Bronx Museum for the Arts, New York;
Museo Tamayo, México D.F.;
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain;
Daros Collection Zurich, Switzerland;
Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires;
Brooklyn Museum, NY, NY
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
You can find more information on Liliana Porter’s work: