Events & exhibitions

Gala Porras-Kim: Precipitation for an Arid Landscape

Gala Porras-Kim Cc3029 Radcliffe Courtesy
Gala Porras-Kim, 44 offerings for the rain at the Peabody Museum, 2021. Graphite and ink on paper, frame, 48.5 x 36.5 x 2 in. Image courtesy of the artist and Commonwealth and Council.

Gala Porras-Kim is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice focuses on the relationship between historical objects and the institutions that collect, care for, and exhibit them. During her 2019–2020 fellowship at Harvard Radcliffe Institute, Porras-Kim researched how items from the Sacred Cenote of Chichén Itzá, a Maya site in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, arrived in the collections of Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

Precipitation for an Arid Landscape grows out of that research, presenting new work that explores how sacred objects may continue to perform their original functions once they enter museum collections and are subject to institutional paradigms of classification, conservation, and display. To address how museological frameworks obfuscate the ongoing spiritual life of objects, Porras-Kim offers a series of speculative interventions into the way stewardship is enacted in institutional policy. As museums are grappling with questions surrounding the origins of their collections, Precipitation for an Arid Landscape provides another set of strategies for thinking through issues of restitution. The making of the exhibition required close collaboration and conversations with museum staff and educators about the nature of ownership and care—work that is as vital a part of the project as the artwork on view in the gallery.

This exhibition is one in a series that also includes presentations at the Amant Foundation in Brooklyn, in collaboration with KADIST (November 20, 2021–March 17, 2022); Gasworks, London (January 27–March 27, 2022); and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (March 25–July 24, 2022). Each venue presents a unique set of artworks that reconsiders the status of objects and their lives beyond collections.

Harvard Radcliffe Institute and the artist are grateful to the staff of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology for their partnership in the development of this exhibition.

In addition, the Institute gratefully acknowledges the Johnson-Kulukundis Family Endowment Fund for the Arts, which is supporting this exhibition.

Join artist Gala Porras-Kim and curator Meg Rotzel on Friday, May 6 at 11:00 AM

in the gallery for a tour of Precipitation for an Arid Landscape. The artist and curator will discuss the process of making the exhibition and the artworks on view.  

Space is limited, register here by May 3 to enter a lottery for admission. Registrants will receive an email on May 5 with details for attending.  

Join us at 4 PM ET on February 7 for the Precipitation for an Arid Landscape opening discussion, when the artist Gala Porras-Kim will engage in a wide-ranging conversation with art historian Martha Buskirk.

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 worldwide. 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 the 2019–2020 David and Roberta Logie Fellow at Harvard Radcliffe Institute and is currently artist in residence at the Getty Research Institute (2020–2022).

The Ethics of Dust: Martha Buskirk on the Art of Gala Porras-Kim (Artforum, 3/1/22)

Exhibition Publication

Download PDF of curricular guide to Gala Porras Kim: Precipitation for an Arid Landscape and the Sacred Cenote collections cared for by Harvard’s Peabody Museum

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