"can't stop, won't stop: tenets of southern alchemy"
June 16, 2021
william cordova examines the visual aspects of transition and displacement, studying the evolution and adaptation of objects and perception across time and space.
Constructing artworks composed of reclaimed elements, paint, gold leaf, and collage, cordova presents encoded representations of social systems and the material histories of objects and images. His work re-contextualizes the concept of multiculturalism and embraces its layered complexity, inspired by his own multicultural identity stemming from Peruvian Andean and African ancestral roots. This exhibition includes large-scale multimedia collages, as well as a site-specific architectural installation.
12 apostles, 2022-2023, is a suite of 12 collages, each 5-by-9-feet, installed from floor to ceiling in a fractal-stepped formation based on a scaffold weaving technique, or ticlla, meaning “mountain,” that originated in the Andean region of South America. A continuous field of gold leaf, each collage features a different model of boombox from the 1970s and 1980s. The title references the Greek word apostolos, which means “messenger.”
william cordova's practice has been motivated by a creative engagement in architecture, geometry, and history. These are essential components in cordova’s life and have shaped his world view. He is an interdisciplinary cultural practitioner interested in the roots of abstraction, history of textile encoding, and non-linear narratives. cordova illuminates the synthesis of memory, ritual, and mythology to further disrupt, challenge, and reassess definitions of our collective landscape. His site-specific installation work is both expansive and intimate, intersecting the economy of materials with ephemeral and spatial rhythms and juxtaposing social political theories with Third Cinema strategies that frame the unframed, thus manifesting subversive visual aesthetics.
cordova graduated with a bachelor of fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996 and went on to earn an master of fine arts from Yale University in 2004. He has participated in numerous artist residencies, including Artpace in San Antonio, Texas; the Core program, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas; the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, California; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine; and American Academy in Berlin, Germany.
cordova most recently organized Post Hip-Hop? or Return of the Boom Bap! at Sikkema Jenkins Gallery in New York, which featured nine artists whose work incorporates the geometry in musical rhythms as a form of liberation. His work was also the subject of the solo exhibitions este futuro es otro futuro at Livia Benavides 80m2 in Lima, Peru (2023) and on the lower frequencies i speak 4 u at the Baltimore Museum of Art in Maryland (2022). His first major survey exhibition, now’s the time: narratives of southern alchemy, was presented at the Perez Art Museum in Miami in 2018. Notable group shows include The Culture: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art in the 21st Century, Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland (2023); Lux et Veritas, NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale, Florida (2023); the 13th Havana Biennial in Cuba (2021); and Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay: Indigenous Space, Modern Architecture, New Art at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (2018).
cordova's work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York; Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut; Museo de Arte de Lima in Peru; Ellipse Foundation in Cascais, Portugal; Museum of Contemporary Art, Perez Art Museum in Miami; NSU Museum in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and La Casa de las Americas in Havana, Cuba, among others.
can't stop, won't stop: tenets of southern alchemy poster or flyer, 2023 (detail)
Courtesy of the artist