Roberta Allen & Liliana Porter: “They Both Saw It.” Wayne, NJ: Ben Shahn Center for the Visual Arts, 1982.
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Roberta Allen writes on a collaborative exhibition she partook with Liliana Porter. She explains hers and Porter’s use of paradox within their works but clarifies that they each operate along different lines of shifting relations and physical processes. She then states that while each artist presents paradox from an alternate view, they both use it to present “impossibility (the obviously impossible); uncertainty (the unverifiable); relativism (possible or true under certain conditions); and subjectivity.”
American artist Roberta Allen (b. 1954) wrote this article on the occasion of her collaboration with Argentinean artist Liliana Porter (b.1941) for the exhibition They Both Saw It in 1982 at the Ben Shahn Center for the Visual Arts in New Jersey. Allen writes that although she and Porter come from different backgrounds and parts of the world, it was the time they both spent in Europe that linked their shared explorations.
While Allen immediately distinguishes the differences of her own work and Porter’s, she is pertinent in discussing the vital role paradox plays in each of their practices. Although Allen uses paradox to “present subjective views defined as sets of facts through a conjunction of words and images” and Porter “explores the thing itself, the memory-illusion of the thing,” they both use paradox to contrast “physical facts with facts of consciousness.”
Allen moves away from the artists intentions with the collaboration and onto the installation of their combined works which features Porter’s silkscreened wall images and Allen’s plywood squares with painted words and images. “The installation reflects the intuitive thinking of two artists engaged in one process that simultaneously reflects their similarities and differences.”
[See in ICAA digital archive, the texts: “Intersections: The Art of Liliana Porter and Ana Tiscornia,” by Pedro Cuperman (doc. no. 1274516) and “Latin America at Bucknell,” by Bucknell University Press (doc. no. 1274663) regarding other artist collaborations with Porter].
Although brief, this article explains why Allen and Porter were suitable for collaboration.
Roberta Allen (b.1954) is a creative writer and author of 9 books including The Princess of Herself 2016 and The Dreaming Girl 2011, as well as a practicing artist of conceptual art and sculpture.
Liliana Porter (b. 1941) was born in Buenos Aires, and began studying art at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes Manuel Belgrano. In 1958 she and her family moved to Mexico City, where she enrolled at the Universidad Iberoamericana and took classes from the German artist Mathias Goeritz (1915–90), specializing in printmaking with Guillermo Silva Santamaría. She returned to Buenos Aires in 1961 and remained there until 1964, where she continued art training with Fernando López Anaya and Ana María Moncalvo. Porter played a major role in the New York Graphic Workshop (NYGW, 1964–65). In the last 20 years of her career she has specialized in pictures and sculptures that incorporate figurines found in thrift stores and flea markets, as well as larger installations that incorporate surrounding spaces and sites. Liliana Porter currently lives and works in Rhinebeck, New York state.