LOS ANGELES—Wrapping up this week is the final chapter of Columbian artist Gala Porras-Kim‘s three-part investigation focused on the Proctor Stafford Collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). On view at Commonwealth and Council, Porras-Kim’s gestalt of semi-pseudo ceramic artifacts and Serafini-esque drawings speculate on the potential histories and narratives of the shards and pottery fragments, reintroducing them in contemporary modes of representation.
For Commonwealth and Council, Porras-Kim studies the formal vocabulary of objects found in Jalisco and offers parallels from our contemporary visual lexicon. Her graphite drawings and ceramic sculptures of stacked arrangements suggest an incipient language through which the congruence of shapes leads to mnemonic devices that generate sound.
Andy Campbell of ArtForum writes in her exhibition, Porras-Kim’s experiments in installation explore strategies of containment and classification, challenging the archival modalities found in museums so as to foster space for “decolonial aesthetics to truly take shape.”
In a sequence of graphite-and-Flashe-paint drawings on paper, she imagines a contemporary morphology of vessels (Three joined gourds vessel, all works 2017), a dog preparing to expel (Dog vessel), and two precariously balanced Buddha’s hand fruits (Two joined Buddha’s hands vessel). On a low platform nearby, the artist has installed a sequence of pots paired with mismatched lips, a conjuring of idiosyncratic combinations. For example, Vessel with lip 4 brings together a slim-necked rounded collar and lip with a squat cubic container; suspended by a handsome display mount, the lip appears as an ill-fitting crown. In other works, Porras-Kim highlights the negative space from the designs that appear on the LACMA ceramics for Mesoamerican Negative Space 1 and 2, and explores a humor born of excess—as in the ten figures joined together on a bobsled-like construction made of linen and mahogany (Joined Decouple).
Porras-Kim’s work analyzes and questions the way in which we acquire knowledge, specifically through her investigation of the 235 diverse west Mexican ceramics acquired by LACMA in 1986 from Proctor Stafford, which have been collectively grouped under his name. This archival process served as a provocation for Porras-Kim to deconstruct the museological practice of restoration, naming and cataloging, interrogating how a western collector’s name comes to identify such a heterogeneous group of indigenous artifacts, Carpe Diem writes.
In what the artist calls “changing artifacts through time,” Porras-Kim examines the potential of art objects to function as an epistemological tools outside of their historical context.
Unlike the artifacts on which they are based, Porras-Kim’s ceramics will continuously generate information as to location/movement, hardwiring the importance of precise data to both historical accuracy and responsible cultural stewardship.
Other exhibitions in the series include group exhibition A Universal History of Infamy at LACMA (August 20, 2017 – February 19, 2018), in which Porras-Kim tackled the naming conventions in cataloging the collection. The second dealt with known contexts and issues of provenance, symbolically repatriating the Nayarit pieces through her An Index and its Settings exhibition at LABOR (Mexico City, September 21 – October 28, 2017).
Porras-Kim’s work has also been featured in Hammer Museum’s Made in L.A.: a, thee, though, only (2016), the third iteration of Los Angeles’ original biennial.
About the artist: Gala Porras-Kim (b. 1984 in Bogotá, Colombia; lives and works in Los Angeles) received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Forthcoming exhibitions will be held at the Seoul National Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea; the Headlands Center for the Arts, Headlands, CA; and the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Bowdoin, ME. Recent exhibitions include: “Journal d’un travailleur métèque du futur,” FRAC Pays de la Loire, Carquefou, France; “Made in L.A. 2016: a, the, though, only,” Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; “Current LA,” Los Angeles Public Art Biennial, Los Angeles, CA; “Aún,” 44th National Salon of Artists, Bogotá, Colombia; “For Prospective Rock/Artifact Projection,” The Bindery Projects, Minneapolis, MN; and “Prospecting Notes About Sounds,” 18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica. She received the Artadia Award and Rema Hort Mann Award in 2017, Joan Mitchell Foundation Award in 2016, Creative Capital Grant and Tiffany Foundation Award in 2015, and California Community Foundation Fellowship in 2013. Porras-Kim’s work is included in “A Universal History of Infamy” at LACMA as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA until February 19, 2018. Her solo exhibition, “An Index and Its Settings” at LABOR in Mexico City is on view until November 12, 2017.
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