Artist
Gala Porras-Kim
See images of Work

Rongorongo text L (RR21), holding hands

Future Sounds Replicate Earlier Sounds 1-9
Wood, clay, wire.
Dimensions variable
2014

In past works, Gala Porras-Kim examined the historical steps taken to produce the whistled version of the indigenous tonal Zapotec language. She used information from different fields to investigate how these tones alone could be used to communicate. This interdisciplinary approach led her to finding an endangered way of life impacted long ago by imposing Euro-centric colonial politics. Her work relied heavily on the ocnsiderable research material that was collected and considered before any art ob-jetc was produced. In Future Spaces Replicate Earlier Spaces the objects not only map out the loss of cultural recollection, but also have sonic ghosts from our collective memory still lingering within them. Her intention has been to learn how that connects to perception. With Future Spaces Replicate Earlier Spaces Porras-Kim tries to remember, imagine and recreate specific acoustics over time and across space. The objects reference artifacts from ancient Peru of unknown purpose, which have rea-propiated into current spiritual rituals. Now, the viewer can theorize from the object’s appearence an interpretation using his or her own explanation, or simply ask practical questions about sounds traits that are incited by one of the peculiar shapes. For the time being, this concise grouping of objects behaves like bits of visual information that compassionately forewarms of the noise to come.

Future Sounds Replicate Earlier Sounds 1-9
Wood, clay, wire.
Dimensions variable
2014

In past works, Gala Porras-Kim examined the historical steps taken to produce the whistled version of the indigenous tonal Zapotec language. She used information from different fields to investigate how these tones alone could be used to communicate. This interdisciplinary approach led her to finding an endangered way of life impacted long ago by imposing Euro-centric colonial politics. Her work relied heavily on the ocnsiderable research material that was collected and considered before any art ob-jetc was produced. In Future Spaces Replicate Earlier Spaces the objects not only map out the loss of cultural recollection, but also have sonic ghosts from our collective memory still lingering within them. Her intention has been to learn how that connects to perception. With Future Spaces Replicate Earlier Spaces Porras-Kim tries to remember, imagine and recreate specific acoustics over time and across space. The objects reference artifacts from ancient Peru of unknown purpose, which have rea-propiated into current spiritual rituals. Now, the viewer can theorize from the object’s appearence an interpretation using his or her own explanation, or simply ask practical questions about sounds traits that are incited by one of the peculiar shapes. For the time being, this concise grouping of objects behaves like bits of visual information that compassionately forewarms of the noise to come.

For Prospective Rock/Artifact Projection
Graphite on paper, plexiglass, felt tip pen
56 x 104 x 2.5 inches
2014

For Learning Zapotec Verbs
Wood, pencil, paper, wire, found rocks.
50 x 37.5 x 2.5 inches
2012

The work is basically a big note card that I used to memorize verbs while learning Zapotec. The verbs are written out in the front of each card in Zapotec from San Luc Quavini, an oral language that has been slowly incorporated into written form. The spelling of these verbs has been decided by my instructor Felipe Lopez, who wrote the dictionary of this language, so the phonetic spelling is also used to distinguish from other dialects of Zapotec. The English version of the verb is in the back. The rocks are interchangeable, to facilitate use for memorization.

For Learning Zapotec Verbs
Detail
Wood, pencil, paper, wire, found rocks.
50 x 37.5 x 2.5 inches
2012

The work is basically a big note card that I used to memorize verbs while learning Zapotec. The verbs are written out in the front of each card in Zapotec from San Luc Quavini, an oral language that has been slowly incorporated into written form. The spelling of these verbs has been decided by my instructor Felipe Lopez, who wrote the dictionary of this language, so the phonetic spelling is also used to distinguish from other dialects of Zapotec. The English version of the verb is in the back. The rocks are interchangeable, to facilitate use for memorization.

Ah Yah
Mp3, paper, rotating base.
5 x 4 x 4 inches
2010

This is a tool to learn how to read Korean. The base rotates revealing all the characters in a loop, as a woman calls out each letter.

I Want to Prepare to Learn Something I don’t Know
Commonwealth & Council
2010

Created during her two-week residency in Koreatown, the works consider strategies that allow an access point into the surrounding neighborhood, such as listening to stories and traditions about places resulting in mapping of sorts. They are tools to alleviate the alienation experienced by the lack of access and undestanding of lenguage that can obfuscate this landscape that we drive by on daily basis. The exhibition explores the relations between meaning, translations and cultural consumption through an underlying system of social sings. The work uses cultural elements that are part of the everyday visual language, which overwhelms the Koreatown landscape, and alienates the non-native at the same time. The work sets up a problem of de-contextualizing and re-appropiating these signs, as an attempt to address how meaning can be forced and altered as a method to make culture marketable.

Remembering Places by the Shape of their Billboard - Beverly after Normandie
Lightjet print
20 x 14 inches
2010

Towards Huautla, OX
Wood, stones, fabric, mirror, google maps video
17 x 27 inches
2012

Google walk from the border of Huautla to the closest available road leading to Maria Sabina’s house.
The internet connection speed makes the image slowly come into focus, sort of how you would see if you
were taking part of the ritual.

Q’s - Proposal for a Sign Addition to Q’s Nightclub
Lightjet print, graphite on paper
30 x 42 inches
2010

Q’s nightclub, located on Western between 5th and 6th street in Los Angeles, has a sign that utilizes Korean characters that phonetically sound out “nait krob”, as a close approximation to the English word “nightclub”. This drawing is a proposal for three additional signs. First, one that will provide an even closer phonetic approximation to the English word using Korean characters (though the character construction is not accurate). Then, a literal phonetic translation of the original sign constructed with English letters, and finally, an English version.

Sign Installations in Oaxacan Stores
Corredor comercial Soledad, Downtown, Oaxaca, Mexico
2014

The intervention consisted of translating signs at Oaxacan stores along the Centro Comercial Soledad in Mexico City into the Zapotec variant of the place where the store owners are from, and installing them along with the original signs. The owners kept the signs up after the event therefore they are in permanent display.

Bio

Bogota, Colombia, 1984.
Lives and works in Los Angeles, United States.

Gala Porras-Kim’s work questions how knowledge is acquired and tests the potential of the art object to function as an epistemological tool outside of its traditional, art historical context. Recent work examines the ultimate and literal signifier of culture: language, particularly its sounds.

She uses the social and political contexts that influence the representation of language and history, to make art objects through the process of learning. The work comes from a research-based practice that aims to consider how intangible things, such as sounds, language and history, have been represented through different methodologies in the fields of linguistics, history and conservation. It takes into account the way people represent sounds that make up communication with an object, whether is through codes or a written form, and conversely, how objects can be used to make a historical narrative through artifacts.

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