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Sandra Gamarra

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Emergencies Catalogue, Castilla y Leon Museum of Contemporary Art, 2005

The Lima Museum of Contemporary Art presents at Musac a selection from its collection, which includes more than a thousand works at the moment. LiMac, which opened in the year 2002 and was conceived as a moving museum, works in different locations and its headquarters are, in each case, the city that temporarily houses it.

For this exhibition, in collaboration with Musac, we present a group of works arranged in a space so that the visitor that does not know the museum can feel as closely as possible, the atmosphere that surrounds our art center.

The museum inside the museum

A museum is by definition, a space destined to keep collections of different kind. How can we explain, then, a museum inside another museum? Is it possible that a museum exists inside the collection of another museum? Can the museum be part of the work of an artist and not the other way around?
LiMac is presented as a museum of projects and, at the same time, as a project for a museum. LiMac is a project whose purpose is, precisely, to project itself. This museum proposes the exhibition of the relations amongst the objects more than the objects in themselves.
LiMac is thus defined by its lacking. In a country where cultural institutions are scarce and galleries and art spaces replace the work of the museum, it is necessary to create a mask that groups all those efforts and at the same time group all the projects that remain unaccomplished, the texts that remain unpublished, the reviews that remain unprinted. This museum wants to fill the institutional void created by the work that is effectively carried out in Lima. It does not work with the absence of a proper museum, but, on the contrary, that same absence pushes it to freely exist and fulfill itself. This type of museum does not seek to propose a new kind of museum, it does not want to be a virtual space let alone an online museum. Neither does it hope to own a physical space; although, not because of that, it can rule out the idea of an architectural project.
LiMac does not want to be a different museum, it simply wants to be acknowledged as such. LiMac is a project for a museum, amongst many others. When imagining LiMac one must conceive a museum like any other. Its characteristics are the same: it has an image that represents it, a collection, a catalogue, a web page. It is not, then, a kind of ideal museum. Far away from what is an imagined museum or a personal museum, this museum wants to be the reflection of what would be a museum of contemporary art in Lima, with all its pretensions and defects.

LiMac out of Lima
LiMac is presented as a real museum through the diverse means in which real museums arrive to Lima; that is to say, through souvenirs, catalogues and printed matter. A make-believe museum or a lie of a museum, the souvenirs and catalogues generated by LiMac create the place for fake future memories, for fake futures visits. Objects and memories at the same time, those belonging to LiMac project themselves, ironically, in two directions: they arrive from a past experience that does not exist and, given its present in constant construction, are directed to a future experience of unattainable concreteness.
It can be said, then, that our museum has begun its construction from the end; it begins as a memory of what has not yet been lived. Its collection comes from works that we can find in museum catalogues or in the book compilations of contemporary artists. The selection of works that make up the collection of LiMac springs from selections that precede it. And that is because the possibility of selection for LiMac exists thanks to an external filter. The dynamic on which it feeds itself is that of selection: by generating its own filter, this museum reintroduces the existing selections into a different collection, which does not deny or replace the original ones.
From abroad, artworks arrive to Lima through printed images. In most cases these works never actually get there. Above all, the collection of LiMac, brought to life through painting, is real. Painting turned out to be the elected medium to create actual artworks from printed images of the original artworks. Thanks to painting the artworks that constitute the collection of our museum obtain a patina of their own, all of them are united to become part of a family of copies.
Through the materiality of painting this collection of copies becomes true. Painting ends up becoming a weapon of reality that carries the falseness of the collection of an inexistent museum. The catalogue turned into painting, painting turned into a catalogue. The catalogue of a museum massively reproduces the original artworks of its collection; in LiMac, it is the original artwork itself. Our catalogue comprises, not reproductions of artworks but appropriations of these works, which through painting become part of the collection. What is an original and what is a copy? Is there an orginal model? Original or not, the collection of LiMac exists, just like the works and the artists exist. This is a collection that expands into reality in a way that t directs itself into the memory we have of what is the collection of a museum and is validated both by the museum that presents it and by the spectator that acknowledges and endorses it.
Consequently, LiMac begins with a book. This book, which contains the catalogue of its artworks, serves to create the collection and not the other way around. Its souvenirs serve to create a memory and not the other way around. The museum serves to uphold the works of art and not the other way around. The catalogue for LiMac replies to the form a catalogue and its corresponding space have, to the projection of somebody else’s memory.
The projection of the museum is so real that in face of its speculation a collective imagery about it can be constructed. Speculation generates at the same time the idea of what the museum would be like if it really existed. We can begin to criticize without having set a foot in it and this proliferation of critiques is the reflection of the need a city has for a space where the work produced there can be somehow gathered. LiMac speaks about the capacity a city like ours has to host a space that can be a place for a real encounter and un-encounter, even when nobody can visit a museum of contemporary art in Lima.
The project of LiMac is an “opportunistic” one because it takes advantage of the absence of a museum of contemporary art in the city to make evident that the criticism generated by museums, art centers, biennials and other such institutions leave aside the, apparently, simple fact of its existence. It is taken for granted that cities have museums, open art centers or organize biennials. Successfully or not, these institutions seem to provoke the existence of a space for reflection. The reality of these spaces is so powerful we forget that the existence of such reflection is precisely what allows the founding of a museum
A criticism for existence or absence, since LiMac is a fiction, a copy of existing museums (a gathering of them all): any museum could fit with it. LiMac can be any museum, as long the actual museum can be capable of seeing the reflection it projects onto ours.

I lie therefore, I exist
LiMac has been physically presented inside another museum, a gallery or inside an art center, in Lima or out of it. The museum presents a museum as an exhibition object, the museum bites its tail. Musac becomes a greenhouse where the existence of another museum, which otherwise would be impossible, becomes possible. The actual museum exhibits itself, the fact of observing becomes a subject for observation. The museum-space and the museum-object are presented in a hall of mirrors where the spectator is both subject and reflection at the same time. In the greenhouse game the observer is the only witness of the manipulation that makes this reality possible and is also responsible of keeping the relationship of coexistence between lie and truth.
Outside of a space like this LiMac would not survive. Doesn’t Lima have the ideal atmosphere for the life of a museum with these characteristics? Lying is the medium to be able to talk about a tangible truth, work is done without a museum and probably it is not necessary for a museum to endorse or host our work. We do not have a museum to bring the works from abroad; however these works arrive and exert an influence on the work we do. We are not a bubble where work is done in an isolated way, from a faraway third world. We are like any other artist, like any city. The distance that separates us from other cities is the same that separates these cities from Lima.
The existence of a MAC (Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Museum of Contemporary Art) in Lima is a dream for us, but it is, paradoxically, a reality for those who live outside of Lima. It is no surprise that they receive souvenirs or news about its existence, what does surprise them is that LiMac is a fiction. Maybe because another way of delivering the art produced locally to the people can not be conceived or, which could be even more terrible, because this would mean that the art produced abroad does not arrive to Lima. As long as art is being shared, “culture will be delivered to the cities of this world”. For us having a museum would only be a way of existing in the world, just as we once existed by mere virtue of having a Lima Hard Rock Café (as Ximena Briceno recaps in her tale ONE) LiMac uses the predetermined form of a museum to create the illusion of a known space from which a dialogue can be stimulated in such conditions. LiMac not only has this desire, like its collection, like its artists. It does not wish to be an exotic or different museum, its sole desire is to present itself with all its differences and peculiarities, just like any other museum from any other region would. The difference between the creation produced in Lima and that from other parts of the world does not lie in its lacks or necessities, it lies in the way we face those same lacks. And in the way we have to work with them, about subjects as universal as war, pain, love. We participate in a dialogue not in a local monologue.
Lima is not a city where you can only find misery; what is terrible about a city like Lima lies precisely in the contrary. Lima has everything, like a horrible sampler where necessities are all confounded, where needs like artistic ones are kept hidden, shamefully, amongst so many others, without finding a kind of plea for them. Maybe that is why this “claim” is done in the most veiled way possible, almost like an ironic and parodic game. How many of us want a museum? How many of us could use it? Would we want to keep it?
The museum is not by itself the space that opens to the public, or the works, or the artists, or the critics, or the curators, but the way in which this set of stimuli operates on the spectator and makes the museum exist by the dialogue that generates between them. Events like the bygone Lima Biennial, some fine arts competitions or some spaces with determined trends generated a real dialogue between the parts; their disappearance has given way to a set of intercut monologues, loose phrases that only a keen observer is able to understand. It could be expected that LiMac serves to plan its future; however, Lima does not behave in such way. The city devours everything in a long and endless digestion, which ends up as a rarified mixture. Because Lima is not an only way, it is the way it mixes things and makes them become one.
The only thing the museum offers is a certain impression of order, a certain kind of homogeneity and familiarity amongst what is exhibited. Lima does not need a new battleground amongst the different coexisting cultures, instead in attempts to present a possible way of pacific coexistence.

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LiMac bets on the multiplicity in dialogue. This is its highest risk. Because LiMac opens itself for dialogue from its own space towards others, with the flag of appropriation. The space of enunciation from Lima, due to its capacity to cannibalize everything, is by nature a space whose identity is ambiguous. This ambiguity is generally understood as a handicap. From this circumstance, LiMac opts for making that capacity for appropriation its characteristic inside a dialogue established between pairs. The premise from which it starts is that is that of replicating the mechanisms and ways of existing museums, giving them back a reflection of themselves. The project of LiMac is strengthened because the idea of museum it presents is needed not only in Lima but also in other cities.
The reality of LiMac is not fed only from the internal needs of a city, but also from the foreign imagery, in which every country’s capital has a museum of contemporary art. LiMac does not present itself as an alienating pretense for the artists from Lima; it is instead a pretense for those who are outside. It s a bait to lure them towards a work that exists but that does not gather in a way that is easy to be seen. It is a bait in the shape of that which it seeks to attract, just like when in love with ourselves we look for a way that suits us best, a reflection outside from ourselves that makes us more real.

(Do it yourself)
In LiMac inside Musac, the miniaturization of the exhibiting space plays an important role in the spectacle of refraction, because the spectator keeps his or her true scale and all the escapes of truth and reality are supported on him or her. The observer is in charge of creating this double reality, which opens from a perspective that includes the observer inside LiMac inside Musac.
Just like we said about Musac at the beginning, this is not a faraway museum, a different museum. It responds just like real museums to the desires of a few people. The museum makes palpable a space where talking, creating and exhibiting art have a real sense; where utopias become realities that allows us to think that these are necessary.
The construction of a museum is always done on shifting land. Maybe that is why you can never totally agree with them, the right work is never done, all of us are never there, those who should be there are not. It is dreams that are projected in a limitedly real space. In that sense, LiMac is closer to reality than you could expect, because by not having limits, everything can fit inside of it.
The lack of a museum, as if we were talking about a cemetery, is translated in the disappearance of the past, in the denial of a process. Not having a place where to commemorate the past resounds in a present that recreates itself constantly, incapable of projecting a future. It so happens that the work of Peruvian artists ends up in foreign collections because Lima is still incapable of housing them. The past perverts itself and turns into a permanent present, the present superimposes itself and multiplies into a disorder of unconnected layers. LiMac pretends to order these times, although this means its own burial in the past.
The creation of a museum in Lima does not end with the fiction of LiMac, in any case it serves as a natural limit, giving way to similar entities that can create a dialogue, which in turn can summon more participants in it.

Sandra Gamarra Heshiki