Gala Porras-Kim investigates institutional and linguistic frameworks that define, legitimize and preserve cultural heritage. Considering how oral traditions or archaeological remains of Mesoamerica are represented and exhibited, the artist underscores history’s methodological and ideological tools to analyze and ultimately control narratives and access to knowledge. Porras-Kim’s work questions the ethical principles of museological conservation while also functioning as an invitation to imagine stories and invest new meanings to artifacts displayed inside museum vitrines or assembled in its storages.
In this video recorded in February 2021 for Tropical Papers, Gala Porras-Kim briefly introduces her latest research project about artifacts of the Cenote in Chichen Itza, Mexico. This sacred pit dedicated to the Mayan rain god Chaac was dredged in the early 20th Century by Edward H. Thompson, who took some of this sanctuary’s sacrificial objects to the Peabody Museum in Harvard. The artist is currently working with lawyers in the hypothetical legal inquiry: if Chaac was a person, could he benefit from property rights or any agency on the objects originally deposited there as a sign of worship to him?
Gala Porras-Kim (Bogotá, Colombia), lives and works in Los Angeles. Her work has been exhibited at the Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju, Korea (2021); São Paulo Biennale, Brazil (2021), Whitney Biennial (2019), LACMA (2017), the Seoul City Museum of Art (2017), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2017), FRAC Pays de la Loire, France (2016), the Made in LA biennial, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2016). She has received awards including Art Matters (2019), Artadia (2017), Joan Mitchell Foundation (2016), Creative Capital (2015) and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation (2015). She will have upcoming solo exhibitions in 2021 at Kadist NY, Gasworks Londo. She was a recent David and Roberta Logie Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and current artist in residence at The Getty.
Olivia Ardui for tropical papers
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