Elsa Zambrano Turns Souvenirs into Original Artworks
The Colombian artist has long been fascinated with this topic, and the “Magnificent Obsession” is her own. Yet the exhibition title also refers to the obsession of the museum-going, sightseeing public, and the compulsion to purchase miniature emblems of artistic masterpieces and historical monuments. Zambrano is obsessed with the masses who are obsessed with buying collectibles. She too, has become an avid collector of theses consumer-friendly reproductions, and uses them in her art.
Zambrano’s current exhibition at Beatriz Esguerra Art features a selection of mirrored shadow boxes filled with carefully curated scenes made from miniature replicas of masterpieces and small postcards from the artist’s own collection. Take Edgar Degas (2015) for example, where replicas of the La clase de danse (The Dance Class) (1873-1876) appears twice, juxtaposed with the artist’s Little Dancer Aged Fourteen (1878–81) and a smattering of small ballet slippers. The vignette is arranged just so, distilling the experience of seeing the originals at the Musée D’Orsay in Paris or the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. into a 13-by-20-inch box. Likewise, in Zambrano’s Fernando Botero (2015) the souvenir shop likenesses of
In these works—and various other pieces showcasing cherished “masterpieces” by
The chain of events that brought “Magnificent Obsession” to life is strangely ironic but not surprising: artists create work, museums showcase it, manufacturers reproduce said work, Zambrano collects the reproductions to make new original artwork. It’s a thought-provoking process and exhibition, and an entertaining way of thinking about institutional critique. Have a look through the Zambrano’s mirrored boxes, and it’s safe to say you’ll never look at a museum shop quite the same way again.
“Magnificent Obsession, Recent Works by Elsa Zambrano” is on view at Beatriz Esguerra Art, Bogota, Sep. 19th – Oct. 16th, 2015.
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