New York, NY-Dia Art Foundation announces the launch of Rehearsal, a web-based project by artist Liliana Porter, the latest in Dia's ongoing series of online artworks. The project can be seen beginning November 6th at www.diaart.org/porter. An opening reception will be held at Dia on Thursday, November 6, 2008, from 6pm to 8pm on the fifth floor at 535 West 22nd Street, New York City.
Drawing from an extensive collection of figurines, knickknacks and toys, Porter works in photography, painting, video, and sculpture, creating humorous scenes with her inanimate protagonists. For her first web-based project, Porter presents a cast of toy chicks singing "La donna è mobile" (Woman is fickle) from Giuseppe Verdi's 1851 opera Rigoletto. The chicks begin in chorus, but viewers can cut to "solos" by clicking any of the individual chicks, and then return to the chorus where they left off. Each chick's audio track of the song is a unique interpretation, ranging from Tango to a panhellenic guitar version to a 1907 rendition by Enrico Caruso. The soundtrack is by Sylvia Meyer, with whom Porter has collaborated on her video projects.
In Rigoletto, "La donna è mobile" is sung by the Duke of Mantua, a coldhearted playboy. In the last act when the Duke is singing its reprise, Rigoletto realizes his attempt to have the Duke assassinated had been foiled, and that his daughter, instead, was the one killed. In the context of violence and betrayal in the opera, the song's lyrics of distrust and deceit stand in contrast to its comical melody. Added to this disconnect is the inherent irony that it is the Duke singing of females being flighty, when he is the one most guilty of this accusation. Woman may be fickle, man even more so, but Porter's fluffy yellow chicks, a gender-neutral metaphor of innocence, sing as if to comfort and calm.
Long interested in issues of representation, Porter's practice frequently addresses conventions related to portraiture and the gaze. Her figures, typically shot against white backdrops or placed on a painted white canvas or shelf, are presented with a simple, direct quality, inviting the viewer to ponder their existential plight. Whether it is a line-drawn rabbit looking at us from a piece of paper with a rock glued on, its path leading straight to the rabbit's head, or a man pulling a strand from a rope, coiled beyond his vision to the size of a mountain, relative to his size, we can feel momentarily omniscient and amused, but also unsettled when we recognize ourselves, similarly unaware of our fate. Though they are kitch objects, the artist portrays the chicks in Rehearsal in a way that imbues them with humanity, legitimizing our desire to anthropomorphize them.
Liliana Porter was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, attended the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes and later took up residence in New York. She has exhibited widely in South America, Europe and the United States. A monograph was published by the Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires in conjunction with her solo show Fotografía y Ficción in 2003. A solo show of her work at Hosfelt Gallery in New York runs October 30, 2008 through January 10, 2009.
Artists' Projects for the Web
Dia initiated a series of web-based works in early 1995, becoming one of the first arts organizations to foster the use of the world wide web as an artistic and conceptual medium. Dia's collection of web projects currently numbers twenty-eight. Previous projects include Barbara Bloom's Half Empty Half Full (2008); Rosa Barba's Vertiginous Mapping (2008); Ezra Johnson's Wrestling with the Blob Beast (2008); Wilfredo Prieto's A Moment of Silence (2007); Maja Bajevic's I Wish I was Born in a Hollywood Movie (2006); Dorothy Cross's Foxglove: digitalis purpurea (2005); Ana Torfs' Approximations/Contradictions (2004); Allen Ruppersberg's The New Five Foot Shelf (2004); Glenn Ligon's Annotations (2003); Shimabuku's Moon Rabbit (2001); Stephen Vitiello's Tetrasomia (2000); Diller + Scofidio's Refresh (1998); and Komar and Melamid's The Most Wanted Paintings (1995), among others. All may be visited at Dia's website, www.diaart.org.
Funding for this project has been provided the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. Beverages for the launch event compliments Brooklyn Brewery.
Dia Art Foundation
A nonprofit institution founded in 1974, Dia Art Foundation is internationally renowned for initiating, supporting, presenting, and preserving art projects. Dia presents public programs and its permanent collection of works from the 1960s through the present at Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries. In the fall of 2007 Dia initiated a partnership with The Hispanic Society of America, where Dia presents commissions and projects by contemporary artists within the Society's galleries while seeking a permanent home for these initiatives in New York City. Additionally, Dia maintains long-term, site-specific projects in the western United States, in New York City, and in Bridgehampton, Long Island. For additional public information, visit www.diaart.org.
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