Roy R. Neuberger 2017 Exhibition Prize winner—Leandro Erlich: Port Of Reflections
February 5–July 30, 2017
Leandro Erlich’s spectacular, monumental installation Port of Reflections will be on view for the first time in the United States at the Neuberger Museum of Art February 5 through July 30, 2017. Filling the museum’s expansive Theater Gallery, the noted Argentine conceptual artist’s nighttime “harbor” with its boardwalk, rails, and dark “water,” will include several colorful rowboats that appear to float and rock gently as their reflections “shimmer” in the waters beneath. But all is not what it seems, as visitors will discover, for Erlich is a master of illusion. The exhibition also will include a selection of photographs, models and videos tracing the artist’s trajectory. Erlich, a noted Argentine conceptual artist, is recipient of the 2017 Roy R. Neuberger Exhibition Prize. Port of Reflections is his most ambitious museum installation to date.
Leandro Erlich: Port of Reflections is organized by the Neuberger Museum of Art and co-curated by Patrice Giasson, Alex Gordon Associate Curator of Art of the Americas and Helaine Posner, Chief Curator. The exhibition is accompanied by a beautiful, fully-illustrated, scholarly exhibition catalogue documenting the artist’s innovative work.
Erlich is well known for turning the ordinary—an elevator, a swimming pool, a staircase, and in this instance, a harbor—into a nonfunctional work that takes the viewer into a world of deception. In Port of Reflections, there is no water beneath the rowboats and there are no reflections. The railings and boats are but cleverly constructed elements that create the illusion of reflection. The boats are suspended in midair, and motors create the rocking motion. “Each element of the work has been fabricated as the artist challenges notions of reality,” notes Ms. Posner in her essay.
“He asks us to consider the everyday and to question it,” adds Dr. Giasson. “Erlich thus brings the boats out of their expected context, subtracting the source of its existence. The work was modified from an earlier version created for the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, Korea in 2014 and later presented as Puerto de Memorias (Port of Memories) at MUNTREF, Museo de la Universidad Nacional de Tres Febrero in Buenos Aires. It crystalizes most of the elements that define Erlich’s works: displacement and challenging perceptions about how and where things are supposed to be.
New York viewers first saw Leandro Erlich’s work in the 2000 Whitney Biennial and, more recently, at MoMA PS1 where his signature Swimming Pool was on view from 2008 to 2010. Viewed from above, visitors were surprised and astounded to see people seemingly walking underwater. This effect was achieved when they entered a chamber beneath a few inches of water that sat atop a thick layer of transparent acrylic. Said Erlich at the time: “Revealing the trick is crucial; it transforms the deception into something positive [and] allows the spectator to think and discover.”
March 29, 6:30pm
Panel discussion: “The Uncanny Work of Leandro Erlich”
Andrea Giunta, author of exhibition catalogue essay “A Gap in the Limits of the Possible” and Professor of Latin American Art, Universidad de Buenos Aires will discuss the work of Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich, 2017 Roy R. Neuberger Exhibition Prize awardee with curators Helaine Posner and Patrice Giasson. Panelists will examine Erlich’s large-scale installation, Port of Reflections, his historical relevance, and themes of the uncanny and trompe l’oeil. The artist will join the final thirty minutes of the conversation via Skype for a Q&A with the audience.