Critics’ Picks

View of Carolina Borja: “Transplanting Cityscapes,” 2016.

View of Carolina Borja: “Transplanting Cityscapes,” 2016.


Carolina Borja

3400 Cedar Ave
August 19–September 18, 2016

In Carolina Borja’s debut solo exhibition, “Transplanting Cityscapes,” there are plants both real and artificial—and it’s not always immediately apparent which are genuine. Even the living ones are planted in artificial conditions, as in Verdimovitl (all works 2016), where snake plants grow from plastic pots that still bear price tags and store labels. All the greenery, organic and man-made, seems equally at home.

The boundary between natural and constructed is fluid throughout the show, which comprises eight multimedia pieces evenly arranged around the perimeter of the gallery. Other examples of Borja’s flora include flower replicas wired to mesh (Brocolis Improcolis) and poked into concrete casts of pots (Roxi Mexitropolis) or soda bottles (Pepsicotron); all are arranged on small platforms on the floor. The surfaces of the platforms in some places appear incomplete, elsewhere colored with paint or other materials. Six of the eight include both sculptural objects and framed photographs of some of the same objects, mounted behind them, on the walls.

Taken together, the pieces suggest multivalent ways of seeing beauty and order. The glossy photos serve to emphasize that these pieces are meant to be understood as they are, rather than as unfinished or haphazard. It’s an apt metaphor for an urban neighborhood: always in the process of becoming, always there to be both enjoyed for what it is and remembered for what it’s been.