Gala Porras-Kim
Precipitation for an Arid Landscape

Grounded in specific archaeological points of reference, Precipitation for an Arid Landscape considers the creation, acquisition, conservation, study, display, description, and circulation of art and cultural artifacts. Colombian-born Los Angeles-based artist Gala Porras-Kim shows how these processes displace an object’s original functions and instead shape a different sense of history, identity, and social relations.

Aware of these constructs, Gala Porras-Kim considers the lives and stories of the artifacts, raising questions about how objects speak, for whom, and for what purposes. The exhibition centers on four recent installations, three of which are new commissions: Asymptote Towards an Ambiguous Horizon (2021), Precipitation for an Arid Landscape (2021), and Leaving the Institution Through Cremation Is Easier than as a Result of a Deaccession Policy (2021). Joining these is Proposal for the Reconstituting of Ritual Elements for the Sun Pyramid at Teotihuacán (2019). These projects are set in dialogue with several earlier, complementary works, which establish a deeper context of the artist’s practice.

Gala Porras-Kim carried out part of her research for this exhibition while being a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University (2019–2020) and as Artist in Residence at the Getty Research Institute (2020-2022). We would like to thank the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University for providing access to the archival material showcased in this exhibition. This exhibition is organized and produced by Amant in cooperation with KADIST and is curated by Ruth Estévez and Adam Kleinman.

Letters to institutions
Since 2019, Gala Porras-Kim has written several letters to prompt museums and archaeological institutes to reconsider the way in which they make conservation and restoration decisions. In her writing, Gala suggests the objects’ intended destiny might be distinct from the one imposed by the institution. She invites her addressees to think together with her about speculative proposals that try to return dignity and personhood to the people whose objects and remains are now kept in controlled conservation. These letters have become an integral part of her artwork. Thus far, the Peabody Museum in Cambridge is the only institution that has responded to her correspondence. Three of the letters published here are featured in our exhibition.
Leaving the institution through cremation is easier than as a result of a deaccession policy
Letter to Mr. Alexander Kellner, Director, National Museum of Brazil Los Angeles, July 31st, 2021.
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Mediating with the rain
Letter to Ms. Jane Pickering, William and Muriel Seabury Howells Director, Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, Harvard University, New York City, November 20, 2021.
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Proposal for the reconstituting of ritual elements of the Sun Pyramid at Teotihuacan
Letter to Mr. Juan Manuel Garibay Barrera, National Coordinator of Museums and Expositions in Mexico, Los Angeles, January 20, 2019.
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A terminal escape from the place that binds us
Letter to Ms. Soomi Lee, Director Gwangju National Museum, Los Angeles, February 16th, 2021

Reading of Gala Porras-Kim’s Letters to Museum Officials

  1. (0:00/ -11:58) Letter to Alexander Kellner, National Museum of Brazil;
  2. (2:44/ -09:13) Letter to Jane Pickering, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology;
  3. (6:19/ -05:39) Letter to Juan Manuel Garibay Barrera, National Institute of Archaeology and History, Mexico City;
  4. (9:03/ -02:56) Letter to Soomi Lee, Director Gwangju National Museum.
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About the Artist

Gala Porras-Kim was born in Bogota, Colombia, and is based in Los Angeles, where she received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and an MA in Latin American Studies from UCLA. Her research-based practice focuses on the social and cultural contexts that shape how sounds, language, and history have been represented in a variety of disciplines, from linguistics to history and museum conservation.
Porras-Kim’s work has been exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions over the last decade and is included in collections world-wide. In New York, her work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art as well as the Brooklyn Museum. She has been the recipient of numerous grants, was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (2019) and is currently artist in residence at the Getty Research Institute (2020-22).
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