The Phantom of Liberty
I see liberty as a ghost that we try to grasp . . . a misty shape that leaves us with only a wisp of vapor in our hands.
–Luis Buñuel, filmmaker
Artists, designers, and design collectives are uniquely positioned to consider the ways in which “freedom” is an elusive or even imaginary ideal in contemporary life. The museum’s broadest presentation of postwar art to date, The Phantom of Liberty presents overlapping concentrations of objects that address themes ranging from spirituality and religion to family and domestic space to the ways power and authority shape and define geography and personal experience.
These works ask numerous questions, including
What is liberty, and is it possible in a world defined by constant technological interconnectedness?
Can artistic expressions ever be considered “independent,” when they are so informed by and reliant upon historical precedents?
In what ways are different individuals allowed varying degrees of “freedom,” and why, and by whom?
Wherever possible, the artist’s own commentary has been used for the label text, providing a direct perspective on their intentions and methods. In other instances, alternative perspectives on the theme are presented.
Some viewers may find the deliberately provocative language, imagery, and concepts of some of these works difficult or upsetting.
*correction from Allora & Calzadilla: "We worked in collaboration with various activist groups involved with the land reclamation actions in the disputed U.S. Navy bomb testing range (in Vieques, Puerto Rico). Initially we designed custom-made shoe soles for the protestors to use during civil disobedience actions. The images on the bottom of the shoes were chosen by each individual user and depicted territories (geographical, bodily, linguistic, and so on…) that functioned as counter-representations of the site. The marks made onto the terrain, indexes of bodily presence and imagery of alternative aspirations, resulted in a collective portrait of this diverse constellation of individuals who mutually gathered for this common purpose."