Interview with Pedro Lasch on Abstract Nationalism / National Abstraction

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Performance of Pedro Lasch’s Abstract Nationalism / National Abstraction: Anthems for Four Voices

“In a way the utopian or ideal audience for this work in terms of having no noise and really perceiving everything at its full capacity, is the polyglot of the absurd extreme, or the multinational being… Politics itself has abstraction at its core. Like the idea of the Four Powers, the idea of representation, all of these things are abstractions. For me at least I hope the project will bring that to the fore, and make it unavoidable. The ceremonial aspect of national ritual.” —Pedro Lasch

Pedro Lasch seeks to create work that exist both within and outside of the traditional museum structure. His recent performance/recital Abstract Nationalism / National Abstraction: Anthems for Four Voices was presented at The Phillips Collection as part of the International Forum on October 27, 2014.

Gallery goers were surprised by a spontaneous opera, and then lead into the Music Room for a full recital. The compositions heard were national anthems all sung in the language of the country that falls directly after theirs in the alphabet. Lasch also created new flags combining the elements of multiple flags which were marched throughout the museum.

Below in conversation with Phillips Media Presentation Specialist Katie Micak, Lasch discusses the impetus of the project, its relationship to nationalism, noise, clarity, and the conventions of the museum.

Sneak Peek: Man Ray–Human Equations


(left) Mathematical Object: Algebraic Surface of Degree 4, c. 1900. Wood, 3 1/8 x 2 3/8 in. Made by Joseph Caron. The Institut Henri Poincaré, Paris, France. Photo: Elie Posner (middle) Man Ray, Mathematical Object, 1934-35. Gelatin silver print, 9 1/2 x 11 3/4 in. Courtesy of Marion Meyer, Paris. © Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris 2015 (right) Man Ray, Shakespearean Equation, All’s Well that Ends Well, 1948. Oil on canvas, 16 x 19 7/8 in. Courtesy of Marion Meyer, Paris. © Man Ray Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY / ADAGP, Paris 2015

Above is an example of what you’ll see in Man Ray–Human Equations: A Journey from Mathematics to Shakespeare, opening in less than two weeks. The exhibition centers on Man Ray’s (1890–1976) Shakespearean Equations, a series of paintings inspired by photographs of mathematical models he made in Paris in the 1930s. Within the galleries, you’ll see the original mathematical models, Man Ray’s inventive photographs of the objects, and the corresponding Shakespearean Equation painting displayed side-by-side for the first time.

Happy Birthday, Edouard Manet!

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Edouard Manet, Boy Carrying a Tray (L’Enfant portent un plateau), between 1860 and 1861. Watercolor and gouache over graphite on paper, 8 7/16 x 4 1/2 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1922

Many visitors are familiar with Edouard Manet’s Spanish Ballet, a staple of the museum’s permanent collection. Lesser known, however, is Manet’s endearing rendering of a young boy, Boy Carrying a Tray (L’Enfant portent un plateau), acquired by The Phillips Collection six years before Spanish Ballet.