The complex relationship between art and its viewers is the subject of Andrés Wertheim’s series “The Museum’s Ghosts,” on view at Blue Sky, the Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts in Portland until May 29. In Wertheim’s large-scale, multiple exposure images, made in museums from Amsterdam to Buenos Aires, the action on either side of the gilded frame comes together, as figures and fragments from paintings are superimposed in camera with characters and spaces in the galleries. In these overlaps, Wertheim creates a museum dreamscape, where a man in jeans and a plaid shirt leans over a naked woman three times his size, or a girl with a notebook gets lost in a sea of Dali. The combinations evoke the effect of a long day of museum-going, remembered back at the hotel—the line between history of art and personal memory becomes blurred. Writes Wertheim in a statement about the series, “Through these unexpected stories I want to take viewers on a journey of fantasy, a dreamlike dimension where past and present intertwine and at the same time, invite them to rethink their own relationship with museums as cultural institutions and as spaces for distraction.” In finding parallels and comparisons between the two spaces, Wertheim’s photos reveal hidden drama. “When the fusion works, I feel that the “spirits” of the museum have finally allowed me to see them,” he writes.
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