Art in the Age of Coronavirus: Liliana Porter presents a work of virtual theatre filmed during the quarantine.
Published in La Nacion, Argentina, April 8, 2020
By Celina Chatruc
“Even being so far away, I will not forget you.” These are the lyrics of the song that plays as a young woman dances alone in the living room of her house. The scene reflects these times of a global quarantine forced by the coronavirus, and belongs to one of the works of art that are being born in the era of the pandemic. “First-Hand Theatre for New Times” is the title of the collaborative piece, recorded by actors in their homes in Argentina and directed by Liliana Porter and Ana Tiscornia from New York.
“Ana and I wrote the script, and we sent everyone by email the excerpts that they had to act out while filming themselves with their cellphones. We plan to broadcast it openly on social networks.” Porter, one of the most established Argentine artists, said this a few days ago, while opening, also remotely, her solo exhibition that currently is on view at the Sicardi | Ayers | Bacino gallery in Houston.
“During this time of the unprecedented social isolation, fear and unease caused by COVID-19, we are using art now more than ever as a source of inspiration and connection,” the gallery announced in its press release, adding that the idea came from the artist couple just as the “social distancing” recommended by governments around the world had begun.
The press release of the gallery explains how the themes of “dislocation, time, reality, and fiction” are dealt with in this 21-minute video “with a playful and sophisticated approach in order to explore the human condition in times of quarantine.” “This work is a testament to the potential of art to transcend physical barriers,” it concludes, “now more than ever, thanks to advances in technology.”
The scenes include meals shared remotely from the solitude of each person’s home and useful advice, as well, such as how to turn a newspaper into a roll of toilet paper. “Humor helps us a lot when we have to face issues that are beyond us. The difference that exists between our goals and the reality of our limits is already a situation of involuntary humor,” Porter told La Nación. She inherited from her father his passion for turning stories into movies and, from her mother, the resource of fantasy as a means of salvation.
Edited by Federico Lo Bianco in Buenos Aires, and with music by Sylvia Meyer in New York, this piece includes the animated dolls that are characteristic of all of Porter’s works, like the video installation “Breaking News,” selected by Florencia Battiti for video programming on the arteBA Fundación Instagram channel.
The Nora Fisch gallery, meanwhile, released on its IGTV account, a visual documentation of Tiscornia, a Uruguayan artist, working in the house that the artists share in Rhinebeck, two hours from Manhattan.
(Translated from Spanish by Kurt Hollander)