on the lower frequencies I speak 4U (alquimia sagrada)
January 23, 2020 - February 29, 2020
Information has been encoded in patterns and lines throughout human history, whether in print media, through video, or on a weaving loom.
—Wesley Miller (in response to video artist Beryl Korot)
Some groups carry the sum of groups which in turn carry the sum of other groups.
—Herbert R. Harvey and Barbara J. Williams (Native American Mathematics, 1986)
¿Quién sabe sino que, en las frecuencias más bajas, hablo por ti?
—Ralph Ellison, (El hombre invisible, 1952)
Sikkema Jenkins & Co. is pleased to present on the lower frequencies I speak 4U (alquimia sagrada), a solo exhibition of work by william cordova on view January 23 through February 29, 2020. For the artist’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery, cordova has developed a multi-media installation seeking to explore “the juxtaposition of past structures to more contemporary structures that illuminate the ephemeral nature of our existence, as beings who create material culture as a means of documentation and memory.” [1 Monique Moss (Choreographer/Artistic Director Third Eye Theater)]
The exhibition incorporates large-scale drawing collages, photography, and sculpture into an environment that reflects on abstract forms rooted in sacred geometries, while also drawing from historical moments and monuments of resistance. Two large scale sculptures, untitled (RMLZ), and untitled (palenque), reference both Brutalist and pre-Columbian architecture, specifically the temple-Citadel sites at Sacsayhuaman and Ollantaytambo. Incorporating the architectural motifs found at these sites, such as zigzags and grids, cordova’s sculptures thread an ephemeral repository, meditating on the concepts of image encoding from biological, natural, galactic, and cultural sources. The sculptures disrupt the formal structure of the gallery, creating alternative perceptions of space and time.
“Data is only meaningful when viewed within the context of its logical structure.”
—Marcia Ascher (Mathematical Idea of the Incas, 1986)
In his series rumi maki, william cordova takes on an ethnographic approach in addressing shared symbolism found in textile data encoding and architectural design. Named after the ancient Andean martial arts, rumi maki consists of multi-colored collages on paper, constructed from vivid layers of recycled paint chips. The arrangement of colors and patterns carry latent meanings, dependent on geography, culture, and the readings of celestial bodies. As cosmological maps, the collages synthesize the sacred geometries of architecture with the visual narratives of historical civilizations. Its form also recalls pioneering early video installation artist Beryl Korot, and her contributions to the 1970s video journal Radical Software.
ogun (el siglo de silencio) sees the artist return to large-scale collage on paper after several years focused on site-specific installations and smaller-scaled work. This work introduces viewers to a new series titled el quinto suyo (the fifth suyo), collages culled from reclaimed paint chip samples and recycled cardboard pigmented with old discarded oil stick paint. Literary references permeate cordova’s collages; texts such as El Siglo de Las Luces by Alejo Carpentier, El Monte by Lydia Cabrera and Decimas by Nicomedes Santa Cruz point to his ongoing interest in the distribution of power, spirituality, and labyrinths of perception.
The exhibition also features the artist’s first published edition, consisting of prints, audio and sculptures, commissioned by the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies at Columbia University. The title quotes the final phrase in Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel, Invisible Man, as the protagonist prepares to return to society following a transformative period. Inspired by cordova’s own return to Harlem in 2019, the edition highlights interconnected systems of spiritual and cultural exchange that transpired between Harlem and Latin America throughout the twentieth century.
William Cordova was born in Lima, Peru in 1969 and moved to Miami, Florida at an early age. He graduated with a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996 and went on to earn an MFA from Yale University in 2004. He has participated in numerous artist residencies including Artpace, San Antonio, TX; The Core program, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; The Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA; The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine; and American Academy in Berlin, Germany.
Cordova’s first major survey exhibition, now’s the time: narratives of southern alchemy, was presented at the Perez Art Museum; Miami, FL in 2018. Group shows include Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; 13th Havana Biennial, Cuba; and In Plain Sight at Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, WA (2019). Forthcoming exhibitions include individual exhibitions at Galerie Florian Schonfelder. Berlin, Germany, and Livia Benavides 80M2, Lima, Peru (2020).
His work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Yale University, New Haven, CT; Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru; Ellipse Foundation, Cascais, Portugal; Museum of Contemporary Art, Perez Art Museum, Miami, FL; NSU Museum, Fort Lauderdale, FL; and La Casa de las Americas, Havana, Cuba, among others.