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LiMAC at MUSAC

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LiMAC at MUSAC (2006)

The Museum of Contemporary Art of Lima presents at MUSAC a selection from its collection, which currently consists of more than a thousand works. The LiMAC, inaugurated in the year 2002 and constituted as a moving museum, works in different locations, its headquarters being the city accommodating it at any given time.

For this show, in collaboration with the MUSAC, we are presenting a set of works arranged in the space in such a way that the visitor who is unfamiliar with the museum can get the best possible sense of the atmosphere pervading our art centre.

The museum within the museum

A museum is, by definition, a space devoted to storing varying types of collections. How then can a museum inside another museum be explained? Is it possible for a museum to belong to another museum’s collection? Can a museum be part of an artist’s work and not vice versa?

LiMac is presented as a museum of projects and, at the same time, as a museum project. LiMac is a project whose purpose is, precisely, to project. This museum proposes the exhibition of the relationship between objects rather than the objects themselves.

In a country where cultural institutions are scarce and galleries and art venues fulfil the role of the museum, a mask is needed to unite all these efforts, in addition to the unfulfilled projects, the unpublished texts and the unprinted critiques. This museum aims to fill the institutional void created by the work effectively carried out in Lima. It does not work with the absence of the museum itself, but, on the contrary, that very absence compels it to exist and to function freely. This type of museum neither seeks to establish a new kind of museum, nor does it wish to be a virtual space or by no means an online museum. It really doesn’t expect to possess a physical space at all; though it does indeed have an architectural project.

LiMac does not wish to be a different museum; it just wants to be recognized as a museum, period. LiMac is one more museum project, like so many others. When imagining LiMac one should conceive a museum just like any other. Its characteristics are the same: it has a representative image, a collection, a catalogue, a website. It is not, then, a sort of ideal museum. Far from being a so-called imaginary museum or personal museum, this museum wishes to be the reflection of what a contemporary art museum would be in Lima, with all its aspirations and defects. 

LiMac outside Lima

LiMac is presented as a real museum through the different ways in which real museums reach Lima; in other words, through souvenirs, catalogues and printed material. A fake museum or a faked museum, the souvenirs and the catalogues produced by the LiMac give rise to false future memories, false future visits. Both objects and memories; those of LiMac are projected, ironically, in two directions: they arrive from a non-existent past experience and, given that their present is constantly under construction, they are directed toward a future experience of unattainable concretion.

Hence it can be said that our museum has begun to build itself from the end; it begins by being a memory of what has not yet been lived. Its collection consists of works that can be found in museum catalogues or in the compilations of books on contemporary artists. The selection of the works belonging to the LiMac collection arises from previous selections. To be sure, LiMac’s selection capacity exists because of an external filter. It feeds on the dynamics of selections: as generator of its own filter, this museum reintroduces existing selections into a different collection, which does not deny or supplant the original ones.

From abroad, the works reach Lima as printed images. In most cases, those works never really arrive. Nevertheless, the LiMac collection, materialized through painting, is real. Painting is the medium chosen for creating real works from printed images of original works.  Thanks to painting, the works making up our museum’s collection obtain their own patina; they are all brethren belonging to a family of copies.

Taking advantage of the materiality of painting, this collection of copies becomes true. Painting ends up being a weapon of reality that supports the falsehood of the collection of a nonexistent museum. The catalogue turned painting, the painting turned catalogue. The museum catalogue is a mass reproduction of the original works from its collection; at LiMac, it is the original work itself. Our catalogue consists, not of reproductions of the works, but of appropriations of these works, which through painting become part of the collection. Which is the original and which is the copy? Does an original model exist? Whether it is original or not, the LiMac collection exists, as do the works and the artists. This is a collection that expands toward reality inasmuch as it is directed toward the memory we have of what the museum collection is, and it is validated by the museum that presents it as well as the observer that recognizes and endorses it.

Consequently, LiMac starts with a book. This book, which contains the catalogue of its works, serves to create the collection and not the opposite. Its souvenirs serve to create a memory and not the opposite. The LiMac catalogue befits the catalogue form and its space, the projection of a remote memory.

The projection of the museum is so real that with the speculation it has stirred up, an imaginary collective can be built around it. Speculation simultaneously generates the idea of what the museum would be if it really existed. We can begin to criticize it without having set foot inside it, and this proliferation of criticism is a reflection of a city’s need for a space that somehow unites the work produced within it. LiMac points out the capacity a city such as ours has to accommodate a space that serves as a real meeting and breaking up place, even though nobody can visit a contemporary art museum in Lima.

LiMac’s is an “opportunistic” project insofar as it takes advantage of the absence of a contemporary art museum in the city to make manifest the fact that the criticism generated by museums, art centres, biennials and other similar institutions ignores the apparently simple fact of existence. It is taken for granted that cities have museums, inaugurate art centres and celebrate biennials. Whether they do so successfully or not, these institutions seem to provoke the existence of a space for reflection. The reality of these spaces is so powerful that it is forgotten that the existence of that reflection is precisely what permits the foundation of the museum.

Criticism through absence or through presence, since the LiMac is fiction, a copy of existing museums (an amalgam of them); any museum could fit its description. The LiMac could be any museum, just as long as the real museum is capable of seeing the reflection it projects on ours.

I lie, therefore I exist

The LiMac has been physically presented inside another museum, a gallery or an art centre, whether in Lima or abroad. The museum presents a museum as exhibition object; the museum bites its tail. The MUSAC is converted into a greenhouse where the existence of another museum, which would otherwise not really exist, is possible. The real museum is exhibited to itself; the fact of observing becomes the object observed. The museum space and the museum object are presented in a game of mirrors where the observer is subject and reflection at the same time. In the greenhouse game, the observer is the only witness of the manipulation that makes this reality possible and he is also responsible for maintaining the relation of coexistence of lie and truth.  

The existence of a MAC –contemporary art museum- in Lima is a dream for us, but it is, paradoxically, a reality for those who live in other places. It is not a surprise that souvenirs or news of its existence reach them, what does turn out to be a surprise is that LiMac is a fiction. Perhaps because there is no conception of another way of presenting locally produced art to the public, or, what would be even more terrible, because this would mean that the art produced abroad does not reach Lima, because while art is shared “culture will be reaching the cities of this world”. For us, to have it would be only one way of existing in the world, as we exist sometimes for having Hard Rock Café Lima –as Ximena Briceño says in her story ONE.    

LiMac uses the predetermined museum form to create the illusion of a known space and, from there, encourage a dialogue in equal conditions. LiMac desires this only, like its collection, like its artists. It does not wish to be an exotic or different museum, but only desires to present itself with its differences and peculiarities, just as any other museum from any other region would do. The difference that exists between the creative production in Lima and that produced in other parts of the world does not lie in its shortcomings or its needs, but in the way we face those deficiencies and in the way we have to work with them, on such universal themes as war, pain and love. We participate in a dialogue and not a local monologue.

Lima is not a city where misery is all that can be found; the terrible thing about a city like Lima lies precisely in the opposite. Lima has it all, like a terrible display in which the needs are all mixed up, where needs such as the artistic ones remain hidden, as if ashamed, in so many others, without a possibility of finding an outlet. Perhaps this is why this “claim” is made as inconspicuously as possible, almost like an ironic and paradoxical game. How many of us want a museum? How many of us could use one? Would we want to maintain it?

The museum is not in itself the space that opens to the public, or the works, or the artists, or the critics, or the curators, but the way in which this set of stimuli work on the beholder and make the museum exist through the dialogue generated between them. Events such as the former Lima Biennial, some fine art competitions or venues with certain tendencies, generated a real dialogue between the parties; their disappearance has led to a set of monologues cut short, isolated phrases that only a devoted observer is capable of understanding. One might think that LiMac serves the purpose of planning its future, yet Lima does not work this way. The city devours everything in a long, endless digestion resulting in a rarefied mixture. Because Lima is not one way, it is the way it mixes things and makes them one. 

The only thing the museum offers is a certain impression of order, a certain aspect of homogeneity and familiarity among the things it exhibits. Lima does not need a new battlefield for the different cultures within it, but rather a possible via for their pacific coexistence.

sussicraN

LiMac is putting its stakes on the multiplicity of dialogue. This is the greatest risk it runs. Because LiMac is open to a dialogue from its own space, toward others, with the flag of appropriation. The space for statements from Lima, due to its capacity to cannibalize everything, is naturally a space whose identity is ambiguous. This ambiguity is generally understood as a handicap. LiMac, from that circumstance, opts to make that capacity for appropriation its characteristic within a dialogue established between pairs. The premise it is based on is that of replicating the mechanisms and forms of existing museums, mirroring them. The LiMac project is promoted because the idea of museum it represents is not needed in Lima alone, but also in other cities.

The reality of LiMac is not just fuelled by the needs of this city, but also by the imagery from abroad, in which each country’s capital has its own contemporary art museum. LiMac is not presented as an alienating simulacrum for the artists from Lima city; it is more like a simulacrum for those abroad. It is bait to attract them to work that exists, but that is not gathered in an easily visible fashion. It is bait in the form of that which seeks to attract, in a way similar to that in which, when we are in love with ourselves, we seek a form that agrees with us, a reflection of ourselves that makes us more real.

(Do It Yourself)

In LiMac inside MUSAC, the miniaturization of the exhibition space plays an important role in the spectacle of refraction, since the observer maintains its true scale and all the fake and real vanishing points are sustained. The observer is in charge of creating this double reality, which is opened from a perspective that includes the observer inside the LiMac inside the MUSAC.

As we said of LiMac at the beginning, this is not a separate museum; it is not a different museum. It answers, as do real museums, to the desires of a few. The museum makes tangible a space where discussing, creating and exhibiting art has real meaning; where utopias come true, allowing us to think that they are necessary.

The construction of a museum always takes place on quicksand. Perhaps this is why there is never total agreement about them; nothing is ever done right; we are never all involved; those who should be are never included. They are dreams projected onto a limited real space. In this sense, LiMac is closer to reality than is expected, for as it has no limits, everything can fit inside it.

Like the lack of a cemetery, the lack of a museum results in the disappearance of the past, in the negation of a process. The absence of a place to commemorate the past affects a present that is constantly recreating itself, prevented from projecting a future. What happens then is that the works of local artists end up in foreign collections because Lima is incapable of housing them. The past is perverted and rearranged into a permanent present. The present is superimposed and multiplied in a disarray of incoherent layers. LiMac aims to order these times, although this would mean its own interment in the past.

The creation of a museum in Lima would not put an end to the fiction of LiMac; at most it would serve as a natural boundary paving the way for similar entities that can create a dialogue, which in turn convenes more participants.

Sandra Gamarra Heshiki

Madrid, 2006

Translated by Dena Ellen Cowan

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