Critics’ Picks

Los Angeles

Gala Porras-Kim

Commonwealth and Council
3006 West 7th Street, Suite 220
November 4, 2017–January 6, 2018

The final chapter of Gala Porras-Kim’s three-part investigation focused on the Proctor Stafford Collection—from the permanent collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—of ceramic vessels dating from 200 BCE to 500 CE from Mexico’s Pacific coast, “An Index and Its Histories” expands the scope of the project rather than neatly tying it up, in a tacit admission that the work of undoing history’s pat narratives is never done. Many artists have pointed to the museological imperative to order—collections, people, and spaces—but, happily, rather than deconstructing current museum practices, Porras-Kim seems more interested in proposing new, hybrid forms and modes of display.

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). Taken together, these experiments in arrangement articulate strategies of containment and classification (often performed by prestigious museums) and push them to their limit, making space for a decolonial aesthetics to truly take shape.