Puzzles and Guarantees
The materials checklist for Tania Pérez Córdova’s We Specialize in a Lady Going thru Sideways (2013/17) reads as follows: “Bronze, Swarovski Crystal descend earring, and a girl carrying the different earring.” The work is a easy bent rod, charting a transit in dwelling. A single earring bereft of its mate, hangs from the rod fancy a entice. It’s supposed, maybe, to preserve a idea, and grab it for some time, earlier than throwing it lend a hand into the ocean of possibility.
There are some issues to examine right here. First, note how Córdova activates the mature framing language of the work. The title and materials checklist assemble no longer yell the fragment in the customary sense, however quite lend a hand to symbolize it—an gentle Conceptual art work trick, right here utilized to contemporary poetic manufacture. Córdova conscripts us, her viewers, into a unconditionally imagined, yet psychologically charged, act of looking. (Concept for an art work history seminar: try pairing the work with Barbara Kruger’s Untitled [Your Gaze Hits the Side of My Face], 1981, in which that phrase is emblazoned over a photograph copy of a Classical feminine head, yet any other instance of pronouns arrestingly deployed.) We Specialize in a Lady Going thru Sideways, which turn into half of her breakthrough exhibition, “Smoke, Internal sight,” at the Museum of New Art work Chicago in 2017, has an especially deepest association for the artist, having been impressed by her grandmother’s comment that the loss of 1 earring rendered its match nearly worthless. However Córdova has outdated the a connected legerdemain in other works in addition.
Even (2016) is a fragment of beautifully figured marble, with a pair of tinted contact lenses resting on its upper surface. The preliminary influence is cartoonish—a sculpture with googly eyes. However the materials checklist, which contains “a particular person carrying color contact lenses in a distinct color than his/her pure eyes,” transforms the minimally anthropomorphized slab into somebody’s alter ego. A extra latest iteration of the theme, Portrait of an Unknown Lady Passing By (2019), consists of a ravishing vase embellished with falling gingko leaves; the a connected sample recurs in a printed gown outdated by a girl who each at times visits the exhibition. (Her image appears to be like on the gallery’s checklist, yet any other occupation of the exhibition’s textual equipment.)
The “absent self-discipline” is most spicy one of Córdova’s oblique suggestions. Over the previous few years, she has created works incorporating “the glass of a window coping with south”; cigarette ashes from a man who desires to quit smoking; and a friend’s SIM card, embedded in a porcelain block—a tombstone for incoming phone calls. Then there is her photograph showing an innocuous-looking lump of sandcast bronze, which is captioned: “A sculpture hidden within yet any other sculpture.”
It’s a pity that Man Debord already claimed the term “Situationist” lend a hand in the late 1950s, for that’s the very most spicy manner to yell Córdova’s methodology. Every of her works conjures a scenario, playfully dubious in its ontology, however affluent in fable implication. The manufacture is completely calibrated to our phantasmagoric generation, when pictures (of art work and the complete thing else) skip far flung from us, so many stones across the water.
Yet, crucially, Córdova’s scenarios are firmly anchored in the staunch. After I interviewed her for this text, I explained that I turn into enthusiastic essentially in her manner to task and materials. She replied, “I wouldn’t know what else to chat about.” Córdova turn into born in Mexico City in 1979, and remains based entirely there, even when she studied at Goldsmiths at the University of London from 2002 to 2005. She also spends time in Italy, thru household connections. This positions her within two unusually intact artisanal cultures. Despite the pinnacle-spinning philosophical conundrums she constructs, her collaboration with fabricators is the core of her practice.
Navigating that world of craftsmen has frequently been a mission for her, partly thanks to the gender dynamics alive to—she’s infrequently the most spicy lady latest in the workshop, and likewise the one giving the orders—and partly attributable to she in general begins with out a suited way: “I would no longer wish to be the roughly artist who’s aware of precisely she desires.” Córdova aims to position herself in the vogue of happenstance. She explains this thru an legend about John Ashbery, who said that his poems frequently originated in a stray phrase overheard in public. Without incandescent the context of the phrases, he’d write them down and later exhaust them to trigger his salvage compositional task. Córdova enters the home of a craft or substitute in barely this spirit, opening herself to its ingenious probabilities, then ready to be trigger off in some path or other.
The ceramic object in Portrait of an Unknown Lady Passing By is one example. A particular casting mildew caught her spy—a curvy vase in damaging, fancy the well-identified optical phantasm fascinating two faces. “If I’d needed to form the form myself,” she says frankly, “I would hold had a range of self-discipline. I depend upon randomness.” After I spoke with Córdova in March, she turn into just beginning a mission at an Italian glass atelier. She did no longer yet know the assign the collaboration might maybe maybe lead, however suggestions had been forming about breath, which affords lifestyles to blown glass along with to human beings, however has taken on such abominable connotations in this previous year of pandemic. It will purchase days or weeks for an art work to coalesce around this preliminary belief.
This purposefully provisional manner is amazingly varied from the vogue most artists tackle outsourced fabrication—which is to yelp, as a transport machine for plans already well in region. Córdova as an different enters into the lifestyles and good judgment of the manufactory, riffing on its capabilities fancy a jazz musician stretching out a conventional tune. Exemplary, in this regard, is her exploration of the casting task, which she loves for its unintentional substances—the spillover and flashing which would maybe be in general pared far flung from the accomplished product—and for its oscillation of certain and damaging states of topic.
These dynamics had been at the heart of her exhibition “Daylength of a room,” held at the Kunsthalle Basel in 2018. The mission’s centerpiece turn into Stuttering, a community of day after day objects—an aluminum saucepan, a tin can, a dimension of copper pipe, a glass pitcher, silver cutlery—which Córdova had melted and recast into their normal originate. A well-known explanation turn into offered: “Have confidence an ice dice, melted down, then poured lend a hand into the ice tray and refrozen. It finds itself a exiguous bit smaller, containing just a shrimp less of itself, when remade into its salvage form. Now imagine this task utilized to other objects on the earth.” The cramped shrinkage and tormented surfaces of the objects gave them a reasonably forlorn air, fancy wool clothing unintentionally place thru a tumble dryer. Yet together, they be taught as an elegy: Córdova had invented a manner to visualise the act of forgetting, to materialize loss.
For an exhibition this previous September, “Rapid Discover Field” at Tina Kim Gallery in New York, Córdova outdated casting to make a series that she calls “Contours,” made by pouring liquid bronze into rectilinear furrows in a bed of sand. When the steel cools, it is lifted out, revealing a luminous clarify, edged in every single assign with solidified splatter. The rectilinear shapes inevitably salvage the perimeters of art work (a peaceful joke about Jackson Pollock, presumably?), however also of windows and doorways—extra apertures into some alternate actuality. At high pandemic, the works took on an further layer of which way: visible echoes of all of the looking-out we now hold all been doing lately, cautious and watchful, sequestered in our houses.
In actual fact, the steel portals of the “Contours” assemble no longer genuinely whisk anywhere—excluding in imagination. If Córdova has only one abiding theme, right here is it: the psychic overlay that we bring to the objects and areas around us, rendering them the props and sets of our salvage deepest dramas. She catches that strategy of fable scripting in the act; holds the proof up to the sunshine, considers it, strikes on. For the duration of our conversation, Córdova described one of her recurring activities. She likes to trawl the casual avenue markets in Mexico City, taking a hold a examine all of the issues in the marketplace: jewelry, electronics, sneakers, whatever. Most of it is ersatz in one manner or yet any other. However for Córdova, the fakeness of what’s on offer—the unfounded branded merchandise, all of the materials imitating other, extra costly materials—is what makes the experience so spicy. In this shifty industrial terrain, worth itself appears to be like up for grabs. It’s some extent of perpetual negotiation, resettled with each deal, no extra, no less. Is that just a shrimp fancy the art work she makes? Can also very well be. “It’s nearly fancy a promise,” she says. “OK, Let’s see.”