Gala Porras-Kim: Out of an instance of expiration comes a perennial showing 27 January – 27 March 2022 Gasworks, 155 Vauxhall St London SE11 5RH Free admission Open: Weds – Sun 12-6pm
Gasworks presents Out of an instance of expiration comes a perennial showing, the first UK solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Gala Porras-Kim.
The exhibition features newly-commissioned drawings, sculptures, and sound work that respond to items in the British Museum and other encyclopaedic collections, questioning the ethical principles of museum conservation and assigning new meanings to artefacts extracted from their original sites and stored in museums across the western world.
Porras-Kim’s new body of work was created in response to research she undertook during a residency at Delfina Foundation, London, in 2021. Focussing on the British Museum’s collection of funerary art from ancient Egypt, she examines the institutional afterlife of ritual objects and human remains, thinking through ways of compromising with their otherworldly original owners.
The resulting artworks include concrete proposals to improve the conditions of artefacts in major archaeological collections, accompanied by letters to their directors that raise questions about institutional policies regarding the conservation of human remains.
These include a sculptural proposal for the realignment of a sarcophagus on display at the British Museum to face east, as it was buried; a sound installation that breathes new life into an 18th-Dynasty funerary stela whose inscription contains one of the oldest recorded love songs; and a large-scale painting that employs encromancy (divination by ink stains) to ask the human remains stored in the Gwangju National Museum where they would prefer to rest.
Porras-Kim’s artworks challenge museums to interrogate their own histories and to be better stewards of the objects they own. Interrogating whether it’s possible for these objects to continue to perform their original function as spiritual offerings, the exhibition unravels the many worlds colliding in these powerful stones, from institutional frameworks and colonial legacies, to stars, cosmologies, and forces greater than us.
Gala Porras-Kim’s exhibition is commissioned and produced by Gasworks, with generous support from the Henry Moore Foundation and the Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK).
Research for the exhibition was developed during a residency at Delfina Foundation, supported by the Latin America and Caribbean Patrons Group. Gasworks commissions are supported by Catherine Petitgas and Gasworks Exhibitions Supporters.
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