Critics’ Picks


William Cordova

Marfa Contemporary
100 East San Antonio St.
October 6–December 22, 2017

The handwritten words “collection of narrative bits” appear in the lower left corner of a collage from a suite of ten, titled untitled (constellations), 2017. Seemingly innocuous, this phrase suggests a through line for William Cordova’s dense installation of paintings, drawings, collages, found objects, books, photographs, sculptures, video, and sound works, all conjoined by massive spiral-shaped scaffolding built from two-by-fours. The motif of the spiral repeats in the grooves of an LP containing field recordings the artist captured in Chicago at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House and the Young Lords People’s Church. For Cordova, the two sites are examples of efforts to join architecture and spirituality, a tradition he traces back to Aztec and Andean building practices. In an alcove of the gallery, the video calle luna calle sol (ai apaec yemayá watatsumi) (moon street sun street [ai apaer yemayá watasumi]), 2017, features the coast of Barranco in Lima, Peru, a sacred site for Andeans as well as a possible precolonial trade route between Asia and the Americas. Each work in this exhibition contains layers of referents and histories, some of which may only be recognizable depending on one’s own personal and cultural background.

The project extends beyond the space of the gallery: Cordova worked with local residents to create concrete spheres, which contain their personal items, that are placed strategically throughout sites in Marfa to mimic the shape of the Big Dipper. These, like all the components of the show, make up one sliver of a multidimensional universe, its points of access and interchange constantly shifting.