"Other Situations" presents 30 object-based works and two video pieces organized in nonlinear, thematic groupings that highlight Porter's artistic evolution over five decades. Among the significant artwork included in the exhibition are Porter's 1970s photographs alluding to space and the body, and a series of prints referencing surrealist René Magritte that interrogate image, representation and simulacra. The exhibition also includes more recent works in which Porter utilizes miniature workers and figurines to make a statement about reality and self-awareness.
Furthermore, Porter's artwork explores the conflicting boundaries between reality and fiction and the ways in which images are circulated and consumed. Her work includes a fundamental distinction between the notions of "narrative" and "situation." The linear structure implicit in most stories suggests a relationship with time in which Porter is not interested. In her universe, it is unclear where the traveler is coming from, how an army became trapped in a tide of paint, or how a giant piano will be fixed. Instead, the situations she creates always occur in the present tense. The past and future of the action become irrelevant in light of the urgency and absurdity of the problems faced by her characters.
Sometimes paired in conversation or arranged in larger groups, Porter’s characters — a pantheon of cultural figures such as Elvis Presley, Che Guevara, Jesus, Mickey Mouse and Benito Juárez — appear to uncover the burden of domestic ontologies. The representation of these heavily mediated individuals, and the questions about image dissemination and public life, become particularly relevant in present times, where the fields of politics, spectacle and celebrity culture collide and merge.
Porter’s SCAD Museum of Art exhibition is listed as an art-world highlight of 2017, according to Omar Kholeif, senior curator and director of global initiatives for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Read more about what he has to say in The Art Newspaper.
Read more from the New York Times about the exhibition, on loan from the SCAD Museum of Art, and on display at the El Museo del Barrio in New York City through Jan. 27, 2019.