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Drum Solo (Solo de Tambor)

Not on view

Drum Solo (Solo de Tambor)

Artist: Liliana Porter (born Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1941)

Date: 2000
Medium: Multi-media in 3 formats: VHS, DVD, Beta
Total running time: 19:08
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 2004.24
Label Text
Museum from Home
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with Liliana Porter and a Cast of Dozens
September 29, 2020
Mary E. Murray, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Liliana Porter (born 1941, Argentina, lives in New York), Drum Solo (Solo de tambor), 2000, single-channel video, 19:08 minutes, Museum purchase, 2004.24

Liliana Porter’s charming Drum Solo (Solo de Tambor) is a work of video art starring toys and figurines that sing, dance, and act out very human dramas, often to comic effect. The video begins with a quotation, from 1001 Nights, “Such was his amazement that for a while he stood still, his eyes fixed where the palace used to be but was nowhere visible, hoping to understand something that didn’t make sense.” With her little figurines, Porter plays on signs for human interaction, even if humans are absent. She describes these little figures as “insubstantial ornaments, but, at the same time, [they] have a gaze that can be animated by the viewer.” That is, we project onto them an identity with emotions and feelings. Porter stages the objects in what she calls “theatrical vignettes” that hold a mirror up to the human condition. With simple, stop-action animation and a brilliant soundtrack by Sylvia Meyer, the little actors gently reveal everyday interactions, human frailties, and linguistic oddities. It is uncanny that a statue of a little drumming pig photographed in just the right way, with just the right musical accompaniment, creates drama. The figures sleep, kiss, and sometimes meet tragic ends, and because of Porter’s artistry, we feel for them.

© Liliana Porter