Liminal – Próximamente
Malba – Ruth Benzacar
05.07.19 | 27.10.19 – 26.06.19 | 20.07.19
Liminal is the first anthological exhibition of artist Leandro Erlich (Buenos Aires, 1973) to be held in Argentina. It encompasses a selection of twenty-one installations produced from 1996 to 2019, as well as large-format works like La vista [View] (1997), Vecinos [Neighbors] (1996), La vereda [Sidewalk] (2007), Las nubes [Clouds] (2018), El avión [Airplane] (2011), Puerto de memorias [Port of Memories] (2014), Vuelo nocturno [Night Flight] (2015), Hair Salon (2017), El aula [Classroom] (2017), and Window and Ladder. La pileta [Swimming Pool] (1999)—one of the artist’s most internationally acclaimed works—represented Argentina at the Venice Biennale in 2001 before being installed on a permanent basis at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan. For the show at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Malba), Erlich produced, in conjunction with the museum, a series of works, among them a site-specific project for its esplanade: Invisible Billboard required, the museum reports, more than a year of work by a team of some one hundred and fifty people.
On September 20, 2015, the Buenos Aires Obelisk woke up to find its tip missing. In La democracia del símbolo [Democracy of the Symbol], Erlich simulated having transported the monument’s top to this same esplanade, turning it into a space open to the public, a space to be walked through. “Erlich has created a body of sculptures and large installations in which the architectural appearance of the everyday functions as a type of perceptual trap, leading the unsuspecting viewer into a visual paradox that systematically defies what should be the rules and order of the material world,” explains the show’s curator, Dan Cameron. He goes on, “In Erlich’s parallel universe, stairs lead nowhere, elevators don’t stop at a destination, passive spectators become active participants, clouds take on physical characteristics, and the solidity of built space turns out to be a fleeting optical illusion.” Cameron underscores the “accumulated impact” that comes from seeing a number of Erlich’s work in a single exhibition. The experience intensifies awareness of “this inherent duality, wondering under what circumstances we can ever confidently assert that we are ever truly here or there.” Hence the liminal sensation felt by those who visit the show. The title makes reference to the ambiguity or disorientation experienced in an intermediate state or a rite of passage: participants are no longer in their pre-rite state but they haven’t fully embarked on the transition to the latter state either. One example of liminality is adolescence: one is neither a child nor an adult.
The gallery show deals with his passion for film as a youth and the classic films he became familiar with in the VHS era —the years when he was getting his start as a painter. Próximamente, or “coming soon,” is the phrase heard at the movies in previews to coming attractions; it is also suggestive of something close at hand but not consummated, something latent or just out of reach, that is, an intermediate state. The gallery, turned into a movie theater’s entrance and lobby, holds a group of painting-posters based on photographs of Erlich’s installations. Be that as it may, the artist explains that, “The titles of the (fictitious) films are not associated with the works’ original concept […]. These oil paintings are, rather, portraits of the creative process itself, of the act of making something new, of telling a different story, of painting one thing on top of another.”
Content produced by arteBA. Annual Report on contemporary Argentine art