Seville, (EFE).- The conflict between the ritual value of some historical objects and the use they make of them in museums is the subject of the exhibition “Views beyond the grave”, by the Colombian artist Gala Porras-Kim , based in Los Angeles (USA), which can be seen at the Andalusian Center for Contemporary Art (CAAC) in Seville until September 3.
The exhibition occupies four rooms of the old Monastery of La Cartuja, including the church, and includes 33 works, almost all large and in different artistic languages, drawing, painting, installations, video and audio recordings.
The largest of the works is a huge, smooth and bare cement wall measuring ten meters long by two meters high and forty centimeters wide which, installed in the center of the old church of La Cartuja, contains a large amount of salt inside. so that this element perspires until it comes out of the cement and, at least theoretically, ends up damaging the structure of the wall.
Research in the Archivo de Indias
Salt, introduced into masonry buildings through cracks and in adequate quantities, accelerates the process of ruining these constructions, as explained to EFE by Gala Porras-Kim, whose works are inspired by natural processes that affect objects kept in museums. , such as the one that is made up of a large white cloth canvas to which spores obtained from fungi from the British Museum have been incorporated.
“The mold sits invisibly on the objects, becoming part of the museum itself” and “by cultivating now, the collection somehow leaves the institution through its spores”, according to the artist’s explanation.
According to Porras-Kim, this conflict between objects of a religious or spiritual nature that lose their meaning when kept in museums reaches an extreme when these cultural or educational institutions preserve human remains, as happens with some anthropological or archaeological subjects.
One of the smaller works in the show, the silhouette of a hand on paper, is made after impregnating a hand in the ashes of a Brazilian museum that was destroyed by fire and which stored a large number of mummies.
Each of Porras-Kim’s works -of a Korean mother and a Colombian father who, as a professor, dedicated an academic period to research in the Archive of the Indies in Seville- entails a prior documentation process that sometimes includes an epistolary relationship of the artist with museum directors and curators, letters that accompany the works in the exhibition and that explain their deeper meaning.
The director of the CAAC, Juan Antonio Álvarez Reyes, has explained that if in principle this exhibition had been conceived for another space, it gains in meaning from being shown in a historical space -an old Carthusian monastery that later became a ceramics factory- that has already been stripped of all the objects that belonged to it, both religious and industrial.
Indeed, the container and the content seem to find fair correspondences as when in the chapel attached to the monastery church, where Christopher Columbus was buried, next to the access to that crypt, Porras-Kim has placed a life-size replica of a sarcophagus from an Egyptian preserved in the British Museum.
In this case, the artist proposes through an arrow drawn on the ground next to the sarcophagus, an arrow that indicates a 50 degree turn, that the museum take into account that the sarcophagus must have a specific orientation, an orientation that the British Museum does not respect in the place where you keep the original. EFE