Liliana Porter: For Instance


Liliana Porter’s work is disarming and dysfunctional. It playfully subverts convention, disrupts time, and messes with reality. In photographs, 3-dimensional prints, and multiples made with fabric and thread, Porter mixes the absurd with the philosophical, creating extraordinary situations which lure us unwittingly into the realm of her idiosyncratic cast of characters.


Drawing from a vast collection of figurines, knickknacks, toys, and souvenirs, Porter makes photographs and sculptures featuring these characters in unexpected combinations and circumstances. “For Instance,” an eight-panel photograph, depicts a rally or political protest of sorts, but with dissimilar characters — such as a Nazi bust, a group of ceramic Maoist Chinese communists, a Mickey Mouse doll, a choirboy candle — representing entirely dissimilar aims. Yet they are united by the peculiar urgency of the situation.


Some of the characters are brought out of the photograph and into three dimensions. Photographs paired with the actual object depicted, though in different form, bend reality and reverse time. Tiny figures on shelves perform enormous tasks, at once pathetic and hilarious. With masterful simplicity and humor, Porter blends the real with the representational in hypothetical yet believable narratives — mini-dramas starring mass-produced, kitsch objects that innocently elicit our compassion and our laughter.


Liliana Porter was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina,, and lives in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include the Centro Cultural Recoleta, Buenos Aires; the Museo Castagnino, Rosario, Argentina; Palacio Aguirre, Cartagena, Spain; and the Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona. Her work is in numerous museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Smithsonian Museum of American Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; and major museums in Venezuela, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and Spain.

Installation Views