Precipitation for an Arid Landscape Opening Discussion
In this opening discussion for Radcliffe’s new contemporary art exhibition, Precipitation for an Arid Landscape, the artist Gala Porras-Kim will engage in a wide-ranging conversation with art historian Martha Buskirk.
Precipitation for an Arid Landscape grows out of Porras-Kim’s 2019–2020 fellowship at Harvard Radcliffe Institute. Her fellowship project centered on items dredged from the Sacred Cenote of Chichén Itzá, a Maya site in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, and how they arrived in the collections of Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. The exhibition presents new artworks that speculate on 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. As museums grapple with questions surrounding the origins of their collections, the exhibition offers another set of strategies for thinking through issues of restitution.
Radcliffe and the artist are grateful to the staff of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology for their partnership in the development of the exhibition.
Gala Porras-Kim is a contemporary artist based in Los Angeles. 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 an artist in residence at the Getty Research Institute.
Martha Buskirk is a professor of art history and criticism at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts. She has held visiting appointments at MIT and was a Radcliffe fellow in 2000–2001. Buskirk’s research focuses on art and law, including artists’ rights advocacy, intellectual property, and potential conflicts between proprietary control and public interest. Buskirk’s recent book, Is It Ours? Art, Copyright, and Public Interest (University of California Press, 2021) considers issues of artistic expression and creative protection as they relate to contemporary law. She is the author of catalogue essays and articles appearing in Artforum, October, and Art in America. Buskirk earned her PhD in art history from the City University of New York, Graduate Center, and has received fellowships from the Clark Art Institute, the Henry Moore Institute, and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.
The Ethics of Dust: Martha Buskirk on the Art of Gala Porras-Kim (Artforum, 3/1/22)