Gala Porras-Kim (b. 1984, Bogotá) is an artist based in Los Angeles and London. Porras-Kim received an MFA from CalArts and an MA in Latin American Studies from UCLA. She has had solo exhibitions at Kadist, Amant Foundation, Gasworks, and CAMSTL. Her work has been included in the Whitney Biennial and Ural Industrial Biennial (2019), and Gwangju and Sao Paulo Biennales (2021). She was a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (2019) and the artist-in-residence at the Getty Research Institute (2020-22), She is currently a fellow at Museo delle Civiltà in Rome.
THAT: Tell us about your practice, for those who are new to you.
GPK: My work, generally speaking, is about how history is represented through material culture. My current interest at the moment revolves around how these materials get categorized and cared for in collections and how institutional methods show current-day priorities even if sometimes these come into conflict with the essential parts of these historical objects.
THAT: How does your process usually begin? I imagine researching and looking into the catalogs of institutions can be quite a deep rabbit hole - how do you know when to stop and go into making?
GPK: The making and the research always go hand in hand, it is hard to think of an actual beginning, since they are always in tandem. As I am researching a project there are many ways a work can be manifested so I pick one and park the rest until they are ready to be made. So in any given week, I am doing both.
THAT: Given how your practice looks at historical objects and frameworks of their care within institutions - how has that shaped your thoughts about your own work going into institutions?
GPK: I am thinking about bequests a lot, what has been helpful is knowing what position the institution is coming from and asking a lot of questions about the future of the works, and leaving specific directions when it is different from what I assume the institution will do. I have been thinking about how some of my own works might change the function of the museum once it's in it, but that comes from looking at a lot of historical material and how they change the museum as well, whether it is accepted or not is a different question.
THAT: Your practice is very interdisciplinary with regard to medium - what determines the form an idea will take? Does that come to you during the research process, or do you have that in mind fairly early on?
GPK: As I research, I take notes of most materials that are in the records or whatever I'm reading about, from there I try to have a little distance in the beginning from whatever form I personally am drawn to at the time to find "what shape the works would rather be in" but there is always an element of drawing because it is an essential part of the research process.
THAT: What has been inspiring you lately?
GPK: Linked open data and ledgers, nature, and mold.
THAT: What's next for you?
GPK: I am thinking about architecture and data management in terms of research, but as for shows this year I have a show at MUAC in CDMX in Feb, CAAC in Seville in March, and Fowler in June. and works on view at MOMA in April, the Liverpool Biennial in May, Redcat in August, and Leeum in November.
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