Two rocks, one pumice split in half, one generic rock, n.d. reconstruction (doorstop)

Artist: Gala Porras-Kim
installation, painting | Graphite on paper in artist’s frame, doorstop, mahogany, and sand, | 1600x2388x102mm | 2018

How can one understand an ancient Indigenous language that has not yet been deciphered? Gala Porras-Kim seeks to address this question through visual vocabularies that lie beyond historically colonialist disciplines such as anthropology. In the Biennial, her work focuses on La Mojarra Stela 1—a stone, carved with the untranslatable characters of Epi-Olmec script, that was discovered in 1986 and is now in the collection of El Museo de Antropología de Xalapa in Veracruz, Mexico. Porras-Kim’s collection of works propose different approaches to the question of the stela’s meaning. For example, a reflective graphite panel in La Mojarra Stela 1 negative space recalls obsidian mirrors that were sometimes used in ancient Meso-American divination methods to interpret reflections. In other iterations Porras-Kim creates distance or draws attention to the space between characters, allowing viewers to draw their own associations. (Image courtesy the artist and Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles)


Whitney Biennial 2019 | 2019.05.17 - 2019.09.22 | Whitney Museum of American Art(New York City, NY, United States)