(This text was originally published at The International Museum of Women, May 2014)
Liliana Porter is an Argentinian artist (born, 1941) who has resided in New York since 1964. Her works are storytelling based on fairy tales and children’s toys. Her oeuvre spans sculpture, photography, video, canvas, print, collage, and installation. Each sculpture is a particular world, a space where the conscious and the unconscious melt together. It is a narrative of imagination obtained by the assemblage of sculptures with small-scale objects, figurines, and utensils — all part of a collection Porter has accumulated throughout the years. These objects rarely appear together, they pose always alone; the character appears static in an empty visual field, and if they do engage in a dialogue, they do so with an object of a different species. Each element is distinguished by its discreet fragility, by a thin line between the everlasting and the transitory, where the exercises and the repetition of certain manual gestures constitute the essence of her work. These works, by mean of their small scale, allude to a human being’s solitude, highlighting the duration of time and remarking on the importance of space. The issue of solitude is, in fact, Porter’s central theme.
The more perfect the void in which the character is placed, the smaller the object is in relation to its background. Indeed, the small figure contrasts with the vastness of the space. This contrast gives rise to a temporal notion associated to the finite and the infinite, to the vast and the minute.
Thanks to the distortion of the toys into paintings and photographs, Porter creates new fictions, which are a fragile narrative exposed to transformations. Porter’s world is timeless, the artwork embodies itself in multiple reflections, as a place of changing point of view as well as an historical space irremediably incomplete that is progressively the subject of new readings. As such, each work assumes an extensive temporal meaning.
Through transformation and enrichment, Liliana Porter combines two parallel languages that allow the opening of a hermetic dialogue toward more complex and multidisciplinary fields, in which the text formulates new ways regarding the pre-established discourse posed by the images themselves.