A short story “The Southern Highway” by the Argentine writer Julio Cortázar tells about a traffic jam that lasts a few days. Now the Argentine artist Leandro Erlich has created an artwork of a traffic jam that will last for two weeks (Dec. 1-15). Sited on Miami Beach, two double lanes of static cars — actual-size representations of real ones, all made in reinforced sand. The surreal public art installation “Order of Importance” interacts with the climate crisis.
‘Climate change and its consequences are no longer a matter of perspective or opinion,’ comments Leandro Erlich. ‘The climate crisis has become an objective problem that requires immediate solutions. As an artist, I am in a constant struggle to make people aware of this reality; in particular, the idea that we cannot shrink away from our responsibilities to protect the planet.”
Leandro Erlich is an architect of the uncertain. Internationally renowned for combining elements of sculpture, architecture, and theater to disrupt the audience’s natural view of the world, the Argentinian artist creates spaces with fluid and unstable boundaries. A single change can be enough to upset the seemingly normal situation and collapse our reality.
His 66 life-sized sculptures of cars and trucks give a sense of the fragile moment we’re living and raises awareness of the climate change crisis.
‘The beach has been a symbol of leisure and prosperity for so many years, and in particular for Miami,’ says Leandro Erlich. ‘But now there is a frontline feeling about the beach. It has become a different kind of stage.’
The project is the first in a series of public art programming that is being delivered by the City of Miami, in this case, with the curatorial help of Ximena Caminos, a fellow Argentine who lives in the city.
Ximena and Leandro first met in Buenos Aires, where the latter still lives and works; it was Caminos who proposed that he represent Argentina in the Venice Biennale in 2001 when he was only 28. Erlich presented an illusory swimming pool that appeared to have people standing in the water. In fact, it was a box topped with glass and a few inches of liquid, which visitors could enter underneath.
Leandro enjoys particular renown in Asia, with his most recent exhibitions at the Mori Art Museum (Tokyo, 2017) and the HOW Art Museum (Shanghai, 2018), attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors. In 2019, the artist opened LIMINAL, a major anthological exhibition at MALBA (Buenos Aires) and became the first non-Chinese artist to occupy the entire exhibition space at the CAFAM (Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing), China’s premier museum, with the show The Confines of The Great Void.