MATE – Museo Mario Testino is a jewel in Lima’s cultural landscape. Showcasing decades of Testino’s work, from his iconic Diana portraits to studies of the local culture, MATE examines it all with delicacy. We asked Alex Moore, Exhibitions and Publications Manager for MARIOTESTINO+, to set out his top ten favourite images from the museum’s permanent collection.
AM: Letras MATE is so symbolic of the museum’s mission. When you are there and you see the local scene and you meet the individuals that make it, you really feel that here is a place where the artist comes first. I think for the first thing you see when you walk through the gate, the identity of the institution, to be in the hands of the artist… really says a lot. This also feels like a Vogue cover to me, how the star of the moment always covers up part of the title, or becomes part of it.
AM: It was so great to see groups of friends and families interacting with the new exhibition. This scene in the first room is especially poignant. Seeing people come together to explore and discuss the seemingly endless talking points. That is when you realise how special these works are. There is so much to take in, so many different facets, multiple layers of detail and meaning, so many varying notions in one place, a lifetime of conversation – and that’s just from one picture. That is what this room is all about.
AM: This shot really sums up our objectives for the new Permanent Collection. We wanted to create a lasting and dynamic experience which offers many ways to consider Mario’s work. The visitor experience should be paced, thoughtful and also comfortable. I want people to spend time with the work, hang out there and let it soak in. You can see here the layered effect which was a big part of our design. As you move through the rooms and literally walk through Mario’s pictures, this moving image, the light at the end of the tunnel, gets bigger and brighter, inviting you into Mario’s world.
AM: I find the selection in this room thought-provoking. Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Nicky Minaj, Rihanna and Taylor Swift hanging together. It feels to me very symbolic of modern culture. It is quite an unexpected, but wholly satisfying experience, to stand in a museum whilst Justin Bieber towers over you, the sequins on his jacket transformed through photography into beautiful dancing orbs of colour, and for a moment you feel like you could be stood in front of a Gustav Klimt or in the tomb of some Pharaoh. To me that says a lot about Mario as an author of iconography.
AM: Affectionately and unofficially named ‘the party wall’, this installation of Mario’s spontaneous photographs taken at high profile events feels almost like a game to me. When people see it they feel compelled to recognise and name everybody in it, for some it even becomes a race. I think this is very telling of our relationship with celebrities. In Mario’s pictures we see a window into another world that fascinates us, no matter what our disposition; we can’t help but stare.
AM: I think that there is a tendency to associate nostalgia with sophistication. Glamour shots of Cindy Crawford from 20 years ago are now considered art, but they weren’t then. Even more so in the case of Horst P Horst’s fashion editorials, now highly collectable editions. When I look at this wall, I realise that Mario is different. His pictures don’t require time to pass before they can be considered serious works of art. They just are.
AM: I’m very proud of our new projection installation at MATE. This picture does a great job of capturing the immersive and dynamic nature of the room. The mirrors allow the viewer to see the whole room at once, appearing almost like the pages of a giant magazine. However, the thing that really fascinates me, is when the installation changes the photograph, and creates something new. I find the symmetry created here in the hair, the landscape, the textures of the cacti and the soft glow reflected in the floor especially beautiful.
AM: One of our initial concepts for the new Permanent Collection was for the entire exhibition to be divided up into countries in which Mario has produced work. I remember thinking that we would need several museums if we were ever going to try to represent every country in Mario’s portfolio. In this shot alone we see the USA, Morocco, China and Italy. Being in this room is like going on an adventure, especially when stood in front of the larger-than-life mural of Karlie and The Great Wall, you almost feel like you could touch it.
AM: When I see moments like this it reminds me why what we do is important. I look at this picture and I imagine a young Mario Testino, seeing something that inspires him, that excites him and that sticks with him for life. To be able to deliver that inspiration to a young audience, in a place that needs (and deserves) it so much, is such a rewarding experience.
AM: I don’t know if people realise how involved Mario is in the process of designing his exhibitions – every aspect from the framing to the wall colours, the carpet, the lighting, the skirting boards, the doors, the furniture… It’s about creating the right atmosphere, creating an experience. This picture reminds me that it’s not just about the photographs. Every single thing in MATE is part of Mario Testino, and Mario Testino is truly part of MATE .