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Tania Pérez Córdova, First-Person Narrator (detail), 2013/2017, marble and prescription cosmetic contact lenses, 4 1/4 × 74 3/4 × 1".

Tania Pérez Córdova

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)

Tania Pérez Córdova, First-Person Narrator (detail), 2013/2017, marble and prescription cosmetic contact lenses, 4 1/4 × 74 3/4 × 1".

For “Smoke, Nearby,” Mexican artist Tania Pérez Córdova’s first US retrospective, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago made the unusual decision of leaving one of its downstairs galleries clear of any dividing walls. The open expanse was bathed in a uniform white light, which lent a still, clinical appearance to the sculptures hanging from, leaning against, or tucked within a series of irregular wooden display structures. These constructions functioned as stations at which the viewer could pause, gradually building conceptual connections between the different sculptures as she navigated the space. Only one work, Detour, 2017—a photograph of smoke curling into the air—hung on the perimeter wall. The photograph staged a missing element of a nearby sculpture, They say it’s like a rock, 2015, an elegantly warped glass plane from which a stick of incense was suspended (the

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