New York

Tania Pérez Córdova, Philodendron Stenolobum (70% chance of rain), 2022, iron, epoxy clay, plastic, acrylic, gold-plated brass chain, patterns of leaf damage, 63 × 54 × 29". Photo: Dario Lasagni.

Tania Pérez Córdova, Philodendron Stenolobum (70% chance of rain), 2022, iron, epoxy clay, plastic, acrylic, gold-plated brass chain, patterns of leaf damage, 63 × 54 × 29". Photo: Dario Lasagni.

Tania Pérez Córdova

It’s rare that the white cube does anything other than what it was intended to do: disappear. But “Precipitation,” Tania Pérez Córdova’s second solo show with Tina Kim Gallery, defamiliarized the space, turning it into an uncanny vacuum. No longer a neutral site for display, the gallery’s “blank” backdrop, thanks to Pérez Córdova, produced a lingering sensation—as though one were witness to fragments of events no longer fully visible.

Artificial plants, rendered with exacting realism, appeared to emerge from the walls in precise arcs. Combining the literal and the conceptual, the checklist indicated that “patterns of leaf damage”—alongside epoxy clay, iron, acrylic, plastic, and gold-plated brass chains—made up all of the plant sculptures. The press release explained that the pattern of holes and tears in the leaves were meant to evoke “insect infestations, or botanic infections.” The delicate metal strands were tautly suspended from the ceiling and threaded through select ruptures in the foliage, suggesting rainfall; this association was bolstered by subtitles cataloguing various weather forecasts. Pérez Córdova’s fake flora operate on a knife’s edge between the magical and the sinister. The resolutely still, barely visible brass links created a kind of dreamlike temporal suspension, while the plants’ surface abrasions underlined the effects of real forces, such as decay and disease.

Una reja en una reja 5 (A Fence into a Fence 5) (all works 2022) was a fragment of an aluminum chain-link barrier, melted down and then recast into its original shape. Suspended at eye level and disconnected from the surrounding architecture of the gallery, the sculpture lost any functional delineation between inside and outside. Two compact tangles of bird feathers are embedded in the object, calling to mind gentle woodland creatures that are either fast asleep or dead. Breaks in the latticework echoed the nearby patterns of leaf infestation. A sense of destruction and loss caused by mysterious forces haunted much of the exhibition.

Breathe out 1–3 and Breathe in 1–3 were stylized sculptural heads made of pumice stone. Split in half, they flank transparent glass vessels filled with human breath (as the press release explains). The works were inspired by the different types of breathing that induce various psychic states. But they are also studies of matter as it shifts between being gaseous, solid, or liquid. Like other igneous rocks, pumice is formed by molten lava, in its case, rapidly cooled, the result of a process of transmutation from one state to another. Pérez Córdova’s choice of material may nod to her interest in melting and recasting objects. Likewise, glass must be liquefied by heat to assume its permanent form. Indeed, many artworks in the show gestured toward a relational set of identifications—with invisible or absent actors, and with past and future phases of existence. Precipitation itself is a metamorphic process: Vapor condenses into rain or snow, which either evaporates or becomes groundwater.

As a whole, the exhibition pointed toward the complex entanglements between flora, fauna, us, and the environment, be it natural or architectural. While the degraded leaves suggested incursions that may have no direct human cause, the presence of attenuated metal “rain” reminded us that drawing distinctions between natural and man-made worlds is pointless—we are all imbricated in a set of highly contingent relations. Fortunately, none of the artist’s work came across as pedantic critique. Instead, Pérez Córdova offered imaginative glimpses of our variegated landscape, complete with fraught power dynamics and fragile beauty.