“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,” Adrián Villar Rojas muses in his artist statement, “and that the distance between interpretations and facts might be power—the power of an institution or a nation to sanction truth?”
A timely consideration in light of the Met’s recent decision to finally include Native American artworks in the American Wing where they belong, The Theater of Disappearance acknowledges the power of representation; the power of an international institution to either clarify or subvert visual culture and alter how we perceive history.
“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,” Rojas explains.
Featuring 3D-scanned replicas of some 100 objects in the Met’s collection, figures from across cultures and centuries interact with long, chaotic dinner tables, fused with artworks and artifacts into what the museum calls “sculptural amalgamations.” The materials chosen by Rojas are reminiscent of the Met’s initial collection of plaster cast sculptures when it first opened its doors in 1870. But by the mid-1900s, these replicas were replaced with real artifacts which, soon after, curators were hired to expertly classify and explain, and the Met evolved into one of the foremost art institutions in the world.
As the exhibition’s press release notes, the commission not only transforms the space artistically, but also welcomes “an extension of the existing pergola and new plantings, public furniture, and a newly designed bar.”
The Theater of Disappearance is the Met’s fifth consecutive rooftop commission, on view from April 14 through October 29, 2017.