More than any artist working today, Leandro Erlich (1973, Buenos Aires) has created a body of sculpture and large installations over the past two decades in which the architectural appearance of the everyday functions as a type of perceptual trap, leading he unsuspecting viewer into a visual paradox that systematically defies what should be the rules and order of the material world. 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.
Liminal is the first monographic survey exhibition of Erlich’s work throughout the American continent and brings together a selection of twenty-one installations, produced since 1996 to date. The title of the exhibition references a zone that exists at the threshold of another space, suggests a position of being on the verge of crossing over, or entering into, a specific destination or state of existence, but without ever fully getting there. To hover at the liminal edge of an experience suggests that one is perpetually caught between a prior reality that has been left behind, and a new reality beckoning at close range, but leaving us stranded if we were to linger.
The accumulated impact of experiencing multiple Erlich works within a single exhibition setting is that it leaves us with an intensified awareness of this inherent duality, wondering under what circumstances we can ever confidently assert that we are ever truly here or there.
This effect requires a believable simulation of everyday life, and to that end the sequence of works on view carries explicit connotations of quotidian existence: clouds, the subway, a classroom, the sidewalk, a pool, a beauty parlor, one’s neighbors, doors, a vase of flowers. Despite appearances, however, each work contains underpinnings of the uncanny, in which the viewer experiences a mild shock, because something that cannot possibly be real is nonetheless revealed as just as ordinary and matter-of-fact as the predictable phenomenon one was anticipating.
Curator: Dan Cameron, Curator in Chief, New Museum, New York (1995-2005).
Image: Swimming Pool (2004). Courtesy 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa. Foto: Keizo Kioku.
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