The artist Adrián Villar Rojas is throwing a raucous party on the roof of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art—and it will rage all summer. To create the site-specific installation, the Argentinian artist—who, at 37, is the youngest sculptor ever to receive the coveted annual commission—digitally scanned and mashed up nearly 100 works from the museum’s collection. The installation of 16 black and white sculptures, “The Theater of Disappearance,” looks like a freewheeling Bacchanalian fete.
His team then utilized the Museum’s Advanced Imaging Department to digitally scan and create 3-D models of the objects. Staff members (and their families) at The Met have also been incorporated into the figures that you’ll see.
The Theater of Disappearance seeks to dialogue with the vision and division of The Met’s patrimony. An entire cartography of human culture seems to emerge from the Museum’s wings and rooms. Rather than a mirror of facts, the Museum becomes a version of them: America’s map of human activity on earth, a scale-model account of who we are and how we got here.
What if we discovered that we are in a labyrinth, not a house? What if every classification and hierarchy created to stabilize the world was erased to produce a deeper insight: that there are no facts but only interpretations, and that the distance between interpretations and facts might be power—the power of an institution or a nation to sanction truth?
Jorge Luis Borges imagined a kingdom so obsessed with cartography that a full-scale map of the kingdom itself was made. When the map’s futility plunged it into disuse, torn pieces, like phantoms, hung from trees and rolled through the windy desert. What if The Met was neither the map nor even its pieces, but instead that windy desert, a scale-model theater of disappearance?
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