Moby Dick(Tracy) (after ishmael, chico de cano y carl hampton)

William Cordova

Exhibition: Jul 10 – Sep 7, 2008

In Helen Lock’s 1993 essay “‘A Man’s Story Is His Gris-gris’: Ishmael Reed’s Neo-HooDoo Aesthetic and the African American Tradition,” she states, “[Reed’s] aesthetic could be called ‘art as subversion,’ in that it takes the superficial forms of a dominant culture and transforms their meaning while leaving the forms themselves intact: a polemical approach which has been fundamental to African-American writing since its inception.” Cordova’s work is an extension of this approach, seeking to subvert widely held beliefs, often informed by a European theoretical background, to empower histories of the repressed. Similar to artists like Terry Adkins, Howardena Pindell, and Gabriel Orozco, Cordova emphasizes a utilitarian approach that binds African and Latin American diasporas together, encouraging the integration of people of different countries, ethnic groups, and religion into all areas of society.

In his installation Moby Dick(Tracy) (after ishmael, chico de cano y carl hampton), Cordova and collaborators Mark Aguilar and Carlos Sandoval de Leon have transformed a used police car. They sawed the vehicle in half, tinted its windows, and inscribed the last names of social activists and critics, such as (Eldridge) Cleaver, (Russell) Means, and (bell) hooks, among others, onto its tail section, rendering both interior and exterior as sites for contemplation.

In another work, a gold-leaf collage filled with photocopied tires that is titled daniel boone, pat boone y mary boone (or firestone, pero los olmecas venceran), Cordova has composed a chronological history of colonialism in the Americas, while in the sculpture san antonio’s greatest hits (4-claude black, mario marcel salas, rosie castro y jose angel gutierrez), a column of stacked vinyl records becomes a totem of obsolete information and ephemerality. Through these and other recombinations and transformations of artifacts and detritus, Cordova works to demonstrate the commonalities of transition and displacement between past and present cultures.

“All art is propaganda but not all propaganda is art, like Mao said.” -Amiri Baraka

–Emily Morrison, Curatorial Assistant and Lori Salmon, Graduate Intern


William Cordova

Houston, Texas, USA

William Cordova is an interdisciplinary cultural practitioner born in Lima, Peru. Lives and works Lima/Miami/New York City.
Cordova’s work addresses the metaphysics of space and time and how objects change and perception changes when we move around in space.
He received a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago,1996 and an MFA from Yale University, 2004.  
 William Cordova been an artist in residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem, American Academy in Berlin, Germany, Museum of Fine Art in Houston’s CORE program, Headlands Center for the Arts, Artpace, Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, LMCC among others. He has exhibited in the US, Latin America, Europe and Asia. His work is in the public collection at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Yale University, New Haven, CT, Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru, Ellipse Foundation, Cascais, PAM Museum, Miami, FL, La Casa de las Americas, Havana, Cuba… Cordova was represented in the 2008 Whitney Biennial, 2010 Museum of Modern Art/PS1 Greater New York. Cordova was included in Prospect.3 New Orleans Triennial; 2014 and the 12th Havana Biennial in 2015 at Casa de Africa, Havana, Cuba. 2016 included, SITE Santa Fe Biennial, New Mexico, Southern Accents, Nasher Museum, Durham, NC. In 2017 Cordova was awarded the Michael Richards Artist Award by LMCC, NY and the Florida Prize by the Orlando Museum, Orlando, FL.
Forthcoming solo exhibitions include kuntur: transmissions & portals, Illinois State University, IL and his first career survey exhibition, now’s the time: narratives of southern alchemy, Perez Art Museum; Miami, FL. Group shows include Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay, Whitney Museum of American Art and the 13th Havana Biennial, Havana, Cuba (2018).

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Lauri Firstenberg

Los Angeles, CA

Lauri Firstenberg received her Ph.D. in the History of Art and Architecture Department at Harvard University in 2005. She founded LAXART in 2005 – the leading independent nonprofit exhibition space in Los Angeles. She is currently curating the 2008 California Biennial, Orange County Museum of Art. Exhibitions Firsenberg has curated at LAXART include Daniel Martinez: How I Fell In Love With My Dirty Bomb, Ruben Ochoa: Extracted, TOROLAB: SOS Emergency Architecture,Lisa Tan: One Night Stand, Michael Queenland: Museum of Romantic Life, Adria Julia: A Means of Passing the Time, amongst others. She co-curated with Anton Vidokle Image Bank for Everyday Revolutionary Life at the Gallery at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/Calarts Theatre), 2006 and Isaac Julien: True North, and Amir Zaki: Spring Through Winter, Mak Center, 2005. Firstenberg was formerly the Assistant Director/Curator of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture and the Schindler House, Los Angeles and Curator of Artists Space, New York. She has contributed to a host of publications on contemporary art including Art Papers, Frieze, Contemporary, Flash Art, Nka, Art Journal, Parkett, Lab 71 amongst others. She is the founder of L’art a new online publication for contemporary art. She is Adjunct Faculty in the Public Art Program at USC Roski School of Art and at Sciarc, Los Angeles.

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