Critics’ Picks

Tania Pérez Córdova, They say a lot, 2015, glass, plywood, 2 1/4 x 22 x 17 4/5".

Tania Pérez Córdova, They say a lot, 2015, glass, plywood, 2 1/4 x 22 x 17 4/5".


Tania Pérez Córdova

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)
220 East Chicago Avenue
April 15–August 20, 2017

Tania Pérez Córdova’s “Smoke, Nearby” is a hushed assembly of sculptures that indicate their fragmentation. The wall text next to We Focus on a Woman Facing Sideways, 2013/17, lists, among the piece’s materials, a single crystal earring and the brass bar on which it is hung, along with “a woman wearing the other earring.” An accompanying explanation notes that until the jewelry “is reunited with its mate, the sculpture exists in both places simultaneously.” A Man Flexing His Biceps to Show Off His Strength (Dropped Things Are Bound to Sink), 2012/17—the muscular contours of a bent arm impressed into a block of orthopedic foam—likewise comprises the activation by persons unseen as much as the residue of an object on display.

If Marx called for a material accounting of a society’s means of production, Córdova complies with a series of careful reveals offered both by the artist’s typically handsome, evocatively minimalist objects formed from their surrounding conditions, and by the texts that accompany them. In From “Us” to “Us,” 2017, a glass tile taken from the museum’s ceiling has been folded into a lilting curve and presented on the floor below where it was previously installed. Beyond bodies and buildings, data networks also bear on Córdova’s works, such as Voice, 2013, in which a borrowed SIM card is embedded in porcelain, and all calls attempting to reach that number are redirected. 10 Mexican Pesos, 1 US Dollar, 10 Mexican Pesos, 1 Mexican Peso, 2017, uses the artist’s metal casts of her home and host country’s currencies as a simple reminder of the assumptions that back divergent systems of valuation and differentiate between the legal tender of a national economy and its sculptural renderings.