To see gold
In her work, To see gold, Liliana Porter creates a miniature simulacrum of our own position as viewer: the tiny figure also gazes intently at the artwork on the wall before her. Porter’s experiments with sculpture allow for a fascinating dialogue between artwork and viewer. She has primarily exhibited these “theatrical stagings” of mass-produced toys and souvenirs as photographs rather than three-dimensional sculpture, making To see gold all the more intriguing. Porter often uses the infinitive in her titles to plainly assert the action of the piece. When viewing the tiny earring that constitutes the “gold” of the work, one sees not only the figurine’s reflection but one’s own reproduced as well. The notion of repeated reproduction—and what is both lost and gained in it—has intrigued Porter for some time. In her early Magritte series, the artist photographed reproductions of Magritte paintings from a book on the artist, often intervening in the photograph so that her presence is made known; the original Magritte paintings appear grainy and nearly indistinguishable, raising questions about representation versus reality. The objects Porter employs “already exist…already come with a history,” and by isolating them or situating them with unusual companions (one of her most famous photographs portrays an encounter between Mickey Mouse and Che Guevara), she gives them entirely new realities and interpretations. The power of Porter’s work lies not in the individual toys, but in the relationship and the space she creates between them. The use of a mirror or refletive surface in Porter’s work visually references the theories of Jorge Luis Borges: “Art must be like that mirror/That reveals our own face”; mirrors also allude to the looking glass in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. These two divergent influences suggest a great deal about whimsical means by which Porter discusses issues of representation.