Tania Perez Cordova: Summary at the SculptureCenter spans a decade of the Mexican artist’s career. Her first solo institutional show in the United States, it exemplifies Perez Córdova’s interest in materiality, the gaze, the passage of time, negative space, and the flaws of discourse. Elegantly displayed in the spartan industrial interior of the SculptureCenter, the exhibition brings together sculptural works for which she is known, such as large faux leaves punctuated by delicate gold chains that evoke glistening streams of rain, as well as new works made especially for the show. The final group includes an architectural intervention titled “Name, Phone, Email, Postal Code” (2023), a transparent veil made of hail netting (a crop protection net) and industrially destroyed confidential documents thrown across the gallery entrance.
Activation and encounter are crucial to Pérez Córdova’s practice. “You, Me, Us, You, Them” (2022), for example, consists of a large, flat circle of marble. Fine indentations on the surface hold individual colored contact lenses suspended in liquid. The work is activated by chance encounters with people in the space, wearing contacts in matching colors, in a performative moment. Similarly, Portrait of a Passing Stranger (2019), a ceramic vase decorated with a floral motif, is in dialogue with a person wearing a dress of the same design, whom visitors may or may not notice. Participants in these activations are invisible and unannounced; viewers will only see them by accident. With these works, Pérez Córdova nods to the potential of objects and materials to evoke a memory or evoke a connection.
The artist also explores negative space and time, often using the physical qualities of water. In All Our Explanations (2022), she pulled 3-D models of human heads from an anonymous online bank to create concrete forms. Each mold is filled with water and frozen daily so that the ice slowly melts on the plinth. In the end, an empty cave of the mind is revealed, symbolizing the many thought processes that take shape in a person’s head.
Likewise, The 5,200 Word Speech (2022) was inspired by a statistic the artist discovered that the average contemporary political speech spanned 5,200 words. The piece uses artificial saliva that drips from one copper bucket to another over a period of time determined by the time it takes to read 5,200 words to symbolize the process of spreading ideas. The work draws attention to the power of words, both individually and as part of larger messages. Each drop of water, like a word, contributes to the overall contents of the bucket, but each one, in theory, has the power to overflow and therefore change what is being communicated.
Poetic and subtle, Pérez Córdova’s work invites viewers to contemplate each material as it changes or remains the same over time. What memories are awakened or encounters occur is entirely up to chance.
Tania Perez Cordova: Summary continues at the SculptureCenter (44–19 Purves Street, Long Island City, Queens) through December 11. The exhibition was organized by Museo Tamayo, Mexico City and curated by Humberto Moro, Deputy Program Director, Dia Art Foundation.