Transcript: Dialogue with Liliana Porter

LILIANA PORTER: Well, to do these installations—well, first you have a sense of the space, and what is happening around. Then material you need—the same paint the wall has, because that will be the main paint I will use, and then I will mix it with whatever tone I need to mimic the tone of the shadows. And then I think, once you, it’s like making a painting, once you put some people there, then you need the others, or think of the light—it’s a composition like anything. It’s not that different. And also once you do something that more or less you like, you have more confidence that it’s going to be okay.

This is like another version of a piece I did in 1969, in Buenos Aires, in the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella, which was the avant garde place at that moment to show.

And the good thing is that the real shadows, you know, were mixed with the painted ones, so at the opening you really perceived the wall as white. So you say, “What is your work?” “It’s there.” And they thought, “what, she is a minimalist or something.” But in this case, what I want is that it looks as natural as possible, and that it’s credible as possible. I like the idea of creating absences more than making the shadow.

Because I’m very interested in the subject of representation. And it’s very interesting because you start by, let’s say, painting an object, photographing an object, putting the object in a shelf and you never arrive at the essence of the thing. It seems that everything, even the one you can touch, is a representation.

And I am also a person who believes in dialogue, and I am super aware of how different we all are, and the dialogue, the little piece I have in the show, it’s actually a dialogue between two totally different characters. One is a Mickey Mouse, which is an invention, but it has so many metaphors. And the other is a guy who in Venezuela and in Columbia is a saint—Gregorio Hernandez. And so they are confronting each other. So one was alive at one point, but is becoming more and more a fantasy with this canonizing thing, like a saint. And the other is Mickey Mouse, but they really look at each other and you can see they talk to each other, and I like that.

In my art, I always did what I felt is natural and what makes me happy. I think if you are, if it’s true, it’s okay. I always told my students, “look, if it’s true, it’s good.”