“Everybody has their own plots,” said Liliana Porter, “but when you tease them out of their circumstances, they create something that is different from what happens when you had a script.” A single point in a plot undergirds each of Porter’s works on view in this intimate presentation.
The titles—among them, Forced Labor (Blue Sand)(2008), The Way Out (with Red Car) (2022), and The Gardener (2012)—each offer a glint of a character or circumstance, and all provoke a contest between a single life and wider conditions of precarity. These shards of stories and their surrounding emptiness, emphasized by the works’ lack of edges, leave the script unfinished and ask the viewer to speculate on whether the scenes depict disaster, recovery, drudgery, or joy. Such irresolvable tensions—essential to Porter’s work—are rendered with characteristic humor and depth.
Born in Buenos Aires and presently residing in Rhinebeck, NY, Porter is renowned for a career through which she has innovated a variety of mediums and movements—from photography and print to conceptual and appropriation art. After completing studies at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires (1954–58) and the Universidad Iberoámericana in Mexico City (1958–61), Porter came to New York in 1964, famously co-founding the New York Graphic Workshop. The collective was committed to a conceptual approach to the art object known as FANDSO, standing for “Free, Assemblage, Nonfunctional, Disposable, Serial Object.” In the following decades, the artist has taken an experimental approach to print, photography, painting, sculpture, video, and collage, often integrating kitsch objects, like toys. The works on view in The Gardener and Other Situations reflect enduring themes in her practice: language, communication, and a will to survive in the face of innumerable and not fully knowable crises and states of being.