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“Liminal,” Leandro Erlich’s midcareer survey currently on view at PAMM, has been in the works since 2016. The exhibition, curated by Dan Cameron, features 16 works created over the past 20 years and is on view from November 29, 2022 to September 4, 2023. Erlich creates immersive and sometimes participatory installations of everyday places and encounters that elicit feelings of something being not quite right, leading viewers to question their perceptions and own experience of reality.
Whitewaller spoke with the Buenos Aires–based artist about how the viewer completes his works.
WHITEWALLER: The exhibition provides visitors with seemingly everyday encounters in spaces like an elevator, subway, classroom, swimming pool, laundry room. How will visitors be led through the show? What kind of journey will they go on?
LEANDRO ERLICH: I think of the exhibition as a series of spontaneous encounters rather than a planned sequence. Visitors will be led by their own intuition and build the narrative upon the experiences that each work proposes. In my work, there is an interest in everyday life. I like to think that the way we approach the works are not too different than how things present themselves in our ordinary life.
WW: Your sculptures and installations are meant to complicate our encounters with architecture and space—to introduce perhaps a moment of doubt or complication. Why is that interesting for you to engage the viewer in this way?
LE: I think of the ordinary as a good representation of the comfort zone. I like to create a disruption upon our presumptions in order to be able to rethink the nature of things; to be surprised as a way to create awareness.
WW: Pieces like Hair Salon and Classroom are participatory works. How do visitors activate these pieces?
LE: The activation is the result of the recognition of a familiar space, a space that, without being exactly the same, the audience has seen before. Classroom or a Hair Salon engages the viewer in an acting role. The narrative is built through the associations and actions the viewer makes in the space.
WW: Franklin Sirmans said of your work, “Seeing one of his works by yourself just doesn’t have the same impact as viewing with others.” Why is it the collective experience you’re after?
LE: Many of my works are not complete without the viewer. This is unlike the famous statement that says the painting doesn’t exist without someone who looks at it. My installations require the audience to complete the work. And there is a level of interaction also between the audience—those who are under the water of the Swimming Pool and those who are looking from above.
WW: Will you be in Miami for the opening? If so, outside of the exhibition, what are you looking forward to seeing and experiencing?
LE: I will be there, of course. I hope to see an audience inspired and excited to participate to come to the museum with their families and friends. It’s been hard to go through the pandemic, and it’s hard now to face so many things in crisis. I hope the exhibition brings a positive insight and a joyful experience.