Leyla Cárdenas: Scarcity
November 15, 2014 – January 31, 2015
In her first Bay Area exhibition, Colombia-based artist Leyla Cárdenas has created a site-specific installation at the ICA. For her installation, Cárdenas incorporated materials based on momentous architecture found in the city of San Jose.
When creating the sculptural pieces for her first Bay Area exhibition Scarcity, Leyla Cárdenas worked much like an archaeologist to explore the past and attempt to make tangible the history of a city.
Cárdenas is best known for creating site-specific installations, which also may be considered city-specific, as her work references architectonic elements particular to the cities in which she exhibits. For this reason, few materials are recycled into new projects and most of the artist’s installations are never shown again.
For the exhibition Scarcity, Cárdenas worked onsite for two weeks. The ICA gallery served as a temporary studio where she cast slabs of plaster, onto which she transferred photographic images using a process called digital fresco. Like artisans who practiced the ancient art form associated with Italian Renaissance frescos and Byzantine religious wall paintings, Cárdenas employs the latest technology to create her own modern-day mural.
The photographic images depict iconic downtown San Jose buildings that in the past held distinct cultural or historical significance for the community. Cárdenas obtained some of the images from local archives and others are her own photographs. Although some images are obscure, architectural details are recognizable, reflecting the concept of trying to capture and materialize ephemeral moments in time.
Through a process of destruction and reconstruction, Cárdenas’ mural appears to have collapsed into fragments scattered on the floor. The fragments are delicately balanced on pins, allowing light to cast shadows and create depth, and to emphasize fragility.
The installation is a reflection on the memory and absence of a political, social, and economic presence once associated with structures. Both delicate and powerfully constructed, imaginative and pragmatic, the work comprises dual references — recollection of the past and contemplation of the present.
Also on view are sculptural pieces from the Hole series, each made of sumi ink on several layers of parchment paper. Cárdenas created the lines by tracing holes and cracks on the street’s surface outside her studio in Bogotá. The organic lines on the paper’s smooth surface give the appearance of fractured glass, or are reminiscent of darkly outlined geographic boundaries, representing transformation and differentiation.
ICA Curator Donna Napper states of Cárdenas’ work, “Ever since I came across Leyla Cárdenas during her MFA show in Los Angeles, I have been fortunate to watch her develop her work and career beyond her own regional borders. I’m not only thrilled for the ICA to feature Cárdenas in her first Northern California solo show, but also for our first solo show by an artist born, raised, and based outside the U.S.”
Cárdenas was born in Bogotá, Colombia. She earned her MFA from UCLA in 2004 and has exhibited her work at international art fairs such as Frieze New York, Art Positions/Art Basel Miami Beach, ARCO Madrid, and ArtBo Bogotá. Recently, she created installations at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, France; Museo la Tertulia in Cali, Colombia; and Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her work has been reviewed in publications such as ArtNexus magazine, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, and The Stranger-Seattle.
Cárdenas was recently awarded a 2015 residency at Jan Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, Netherlands, during which time she will have the opportunity to work closely with a professional archaeologist in collaboration with the University of Oxford and the Archaeology Data Service, York in the UK.
Friday, November 14, 2014