“I want to put the objects in this place because I want to let them go. To maintain that my life is still moving forward.” American-Venzualian artist Alex Da Corte pays tribute to Claes Oldenburg’s Mouse Museum by creating his version of the iconic museum.
“Once I found out about Oldenburg, I just became obsessed.” The dream to make his own ‘mouse museum’ has been with the American-Venezualan artist Alex Da Corte since the early 2000s. Da Corte, who has been a fan of Claes Oldenburg for equally as long, felt a close connection to the pop artist from the beginning: “Seeing Oldenburg tackle things as seemingly immovable as Mickey Mouse, for instance, appealed to me. Of course, I loved animation, and I loved cartoons. And he was kind of unraveling this familiar icon in a way that was not about love per se. He took the icon and then completely divorced the meaning and the message from the figure.” Claes Oldenburg’s Mouse Museum is a structure that vaguely resembles Mickey Mouse. The idea was to make a museum for popular as well as his own art objects by “gathering them on shelves and recognizing that this clustering of his own stuff was and could be a testament to his life.”
Since childhood, Alex Da Corte has collected various objects and toys, often colorful and made of plastic. The toys could be the ones that one would get as a kid from a McDonald’s Happy Meal: “It marks an occasion. And when you have no other way of marking your life, as a young person, these pieces of plastic that you collect become your mile marker. They become the kind of stones that you leave in the forest as you walk through life.” Objects like these, as well as props from Da Corte’s many video works, can be found in his own Mouse Museum. The structure is based on the left ear of Oldenburg’s original museum – as an homage to Vincent Van Gogh, who cut off his left ear. “When I look around at these objects, I think of every single person or story or way in which I’ve come to know them,” he says and continues: “In a way, it’s like walking through are part of my life.”
A Harry Potter magic wand, Bart Simpson thermos, Disney Princess rubber dress, plastic beer pong cup, and Marcel Duchamp foam cast are among the things that are on display in Alex Da Corte’s Mouse Museum: “I think that they are so strange. I think it points to some kind of way in which our society exists that puzzles me or confuses me,” he explains and goes on: “Why do we have a strainer for pasta in the shape of a lemon? Who desires a glass eggplant when you could have a real one? Why are broomed colored so brightly? Is it to bring joy in sweeping?” Though the material of the objects appears cheap, Da Corte argues that they are quite the opposite to him: “If I’ve ever lost one of these small objects, I would maintain its irreplaceable. The color and care, and form that are put into these objects mark a specific place in time. It marks a certain way in which people need these things. And it reflects who we are.”
Alex Da Corte (b. 1980) was raised in Venezuela and the United States and now lives and works in Philadelphia. He has mounted solo exhibitions at Secession, Vienna; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; and MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts, among many others. Group show and festival appearances include the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark; MoMA PS1, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Venice and Lyon Biennales. In 2022 Alex Da Corte will present a large-scale 20-year survey exhibition at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. For more, see alexdacorte.com/
Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929-2022) was a Swedish-born American sculptor best known for his sculptures, drawings, and colossal monuments, transforming familiar objects into states that imply animation and sometimes revolt. With his wife and collaborator Coosje van Bruggen, Oldenburg realized over 40 large-scale public projects worldwide. Oldenburg has exhibited in many institutions and museums, such as the Whitney Museum, New York; Tate Modern, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, and many more.
Alex Da Corte was interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg and Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark in September 2021 and June 2022.
Camera: Jarl Kaldan Therkelsen and Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling, and Fritz Hansen.
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