The New Museum in New York shows the exhibition "Museum as Hub: The Incongruous Image". It places in dialogue works by Marcel Broodthaers (b. 1924, Brussels, d. 1976, Cologne) and Liliana Porter (b. Buenos Aries, 1941) to highlight several points of common interest, or philosophical accords, that explore the politics of knowledge, pedagogy, and display. As an exchange of ideas, resources, and artwork, "The Incongruous Image" also explores how a museum collection can remain relevant to contemporary art activity and discourse. The Van Abbemuseum activates their collection by lending the New Museum significant, and rarely seen, works by Marcel Broodthaers. "The Incongruous Image" marks the first time a number of these works will be on view in New York.
The exhibition is organized by guest curators Annie Fletcher, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and Tobias Ostrander, Museo Experimental El Eco, Mexico City.
Bringing together the work of Broodthaers and Porter in one space, “The Incongruous Image” proposes a dialogue or exchange of ideas explored by these two artists. Marcel Broodthaers famously described his genesis as an artist with the statement, “Finally the idea of inventing something insincere crossed my mind and I set to work straightaway.” Liliana Porter has posited that, “The only consciousness possible is doubt.” Positioning its inquiry between these spaces of insincerity and doubt, “The Incongruous Image” seeks to draw out, through juxtaposition, how each artist investigates the deceptions, dissonances, and incongruities that images and language can produce.
As the second part of “The Accords” project, “The Incongruous Image” is part response, part elaboration, and part critique of the first exhibition “An accord is first and foremost only a proposition” organized by guest curator Sarah Rifky of the Townhouse Gallery, Cairo and further anchors related manifestations organized by Hub partner institutions in Cairo, Eindhoven, Mexico City, and Seoul. The exhibition reflects upon the spirit of exchange and experimentation in Museum as Hub initiative rather than a space of classic exhibition, imagining a dialogue between two artists across geographic, temporal, and cultural contexts.
On the one hand, Broodthaers is revered in Europe and the United States to the point of almost becoming fetishized beyond discussion. As Barry Barker observes: “On occasions his works are treated by some institutions like the relics from a bygone age rather than what they are, the products of a vibrant and complex mind that has given us a heritage that through his objects, paintings, and texts expresses a continuous understanding of the nature of the human condition within an expanding cultural context.” Porter has lived in New York since 1964 and is a pillar in Latin American contemporary art history, but has presented work in only a limited number of museum exhibitions in the city where she lives.
Broodthaers and Porter are both profoundly influenced by works of René Magritte and Surrealist literature, exploring ways in which humor, riddle, and self-critique play fundamental roles in the oeuvres of both artists. Major works such as Broodthaers’s rarely seen slide projection Ombres Chinoise (1973/74) and Porter’s photogravure prints The Magritte Series (1975–77), employ various strategies of play to critique the role of the artist. Additional works by Porter further expand ideas of unexpected connection or encounter central to this exhibition. In her photogravure Picasso (1973), the artist’s finger “enters” the visual plane of a Picasso print, and in Dialogue with Penguin (1999), the artist juxtaposes the wooden, black-and-white toy bird with a gold Christ figure that doubles as a plastic lamp. The works are part of the artist’s ongoing series of “dialogues” that bring together objects from distinct periods and places into a single frame of reference in order to evoke a range of possible resonances, responses, and meanings. Porter will also present several new works in the exhibition, including Untitled (Ship) (2011), a large painting that is hung on the diagonal with a plastic toy ship with black paint dripped on it.
As an exchange of ideas, resources, and artwork, “The Incongruous Image” also explores how a museum collection can remain relevant to contemporary art activity and discourse. Here, the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven activates their collection by lending the New Museum significant, and rarely seen, works by Marcel Broodthaers. “The Incongruous Image” marks the first time a number of these works will be on view in New York. The exhibition includes Sex film (1971–72), a thirty-three-slide projection of the artist’s informal notes and doodles that belies the irreverent tone of the work’s title. Two plaques with the text “Museum: enfant non admis” plays with the seriousness of traditional art institutions, stating that children are not allowed in the museum. “The Incongruous Image” also features the large-scale work Sereis de neuf tableaux (1972), which consists of nine prints that list the names and important dates related to individuals such as Charles Baudelaire, Paul Valéry, Andre Gide, and René Magritte. Broodthaers presents each print with captions that often describe writers as painters and painters as writers—“Charles Baudelaire peint” (paints) and “René Magritte écrit” (writes)— a gesture which references Broodthaers’s transformation of himself from poet to visual artist.
“Museum as Hub: The Incongruous Image: Marcel Broodthaers and Liliana Porter” is organized by guest curators Annie Fletcher, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and Tobias Ostrander, Museo Experimental El Eco, Mexico City.
About the Museum as Hub
The Museum as Hub is a partnership of six international arts organizations that supports art activities and experimentation; explores artistic, curatorial, and institutional practice; and serves as an important resource for the public to learn about contemporary art from around the world. Initiated by the New Museum in 2006, this partnership includes art space pool, Seoul, South Korea; Museo Experimental El Eco, Mexico City, Mexico; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico; Townhouse Gallery, Cairo, Egypt; and the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Museum as Hub at the New Museum is organized by Eungie Joo, Keith Haring Director and Curator of Educations and Public Programs.
Museum as Hub is made possible by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts.