Adriana Marmorek ventured into the creative process of this project from the starting point of a question about the tension created when the museum maintains its mission to preserve works of art for posterity while artistic production after modernity dismisses the need to last in time. This tension is transposed to the pretence that marriage as an institution should be everlasting, understanding that "till death do you part" generates countless suppositions of what a marriage should be for it to end with death and not sooner.
How is love's institution par excellence, marriage, laid out upon evidence of its demise? What sort of structure for containing societal organisation can contemporary societies propose in the face of the failure of the "for ever" accord proposed as economic and structural base for the establishment of families? What would love say?
TALK TO ME, LOVE - ADRIANA MARMOREK
The first question she asked revolved around the things we keep as mementoes of love stories that fail, that end before the fateful death do people part. It turned out that people keep all sorts of things that, in the eyes of another, would easily be rendered as trash but that, in the eyes of the lover, are elevated to the category of treasures through a magical thinking mechanism that auratices the object; personifies it and gives it some of the characteristics of the loved one, serving as witness of that gone relationship. Adriana Marmorek has spent the last five years assembling a collection of such relics, documenting the love stories behind them, understanding the operations through which people fill them with meaning that is exclusively dependent on the minutiae of their love story with someone who is now gone.
The museum's remit it to store and collect the artistic and historical treasures of our culture. The modern art museum's rules changed dramatically when Duchamp decided to elevate a simple urinal to the category of art and so did the rules of all modern art production, which now admitted that the artists needn't actually make anything specific or have any artistic genius under their skin. But what happens when a myriad of objects that only mean anything to the specific group of people who have lost a specific set of lovers are not only collected and stored in a modern art museum, but then burnt to ashes? The rules change again: the question isn't now exclusively about collecting non-art and putting it in an art museum, but also about why these objects and not others, for how long, and how the eternal pretension of e museum's mission to store and protect is dismantled when the ultimate goal is to destroy the objects.
Furthermore, Marmorek's subterfuge on the museum is also based on reverting Duchamp's: the reason why his ready-mades were ultimately admitted as art is that what elevates a found object to the category of art is not only its inclusion within the realm of the museum, but also the authority that the figure of the artist wields over it. However, Marmorek has no intentions of elevating her constellation of relics to the category of art, and she makes it clear by setting them all on fire. She also has no intention of wielding the power of authority invested in her status as an artist in order to authorise her love relics to become art objects in the museum. She never takes up the voice of the people surrendering their objects but rather lets them, those who lack authority to bring objects to leave in the museum, speak for themselves.
This is, in fact, the same operation set into motion when she asks people to answer one of the most important philosophical questions of all time: what is love. The same question of authority plagues philosophical proposals as it does the apparition of found objects, stored as art, in the museum. But yet again, Marmorek isn't willing to propose a single, authoritative answer: instead, she asks a constellation of people who aren't invested with the power of authority of having written a philosophical text to answer that timeless question. They will inevitably do so drawing from their own experience with love, and the spectator will come out of this puzzle having formulated one answer of their own; perhaps even more than one single answer, informed by a choir of divergent voices who all try to answer the single question from diverse viewpoints.
But the modern art museum is not the only institution that is subverted through Marmorek's project: she is also questioning the idea of eternal love - generally - and marriage - particularly - that is culturally attached to categories of romantic relationships. The question about ephemera, then, does not remain circumscribed to the presence (and destruction) of Marmorek's collection of romantic relics in the sphere of the museum, but is also transposed to the institution of marriage itself. Instead of representing a romantic idea of marriage that is stable and almost monolithic, Marmorek reveals it in its mutability. The very romantic failure that provokes the inclusion of a constellation of objects in the museum brings about the museum's failure to preserve them as art, revealing the mutability of two institutions that continually fail to acknowledge that necessity to change within their structures. Failure, nonetheless, is not judged negatively: it is merely recognised as a structural element in the operative principles of two static institutions, brought about by the fact that they are resistant to change.
The meaning of this universe of romantic ephemera within the walls of the museum is only achieved collectively: it is through weaving a complex compound of personal failures in love that it becomes possible to formulate a more global idea of what failing in love entails. Similarly, attempting to formulate an all-encompassing notion of what love is becomes possible through the constellation of voices of countless people who sit down to answer these questions, speaking from their own experiences in love.