william cordova: : axiom (or the transphysics we knew about. after Rufus Nims 4 M.Essex)

Archive Exhibition:

william cordova: ankaylli: spatial and ideological terrain

10/6/2017 - 12/22/2017

william cordova’s (born Lima, Peru; lives Miami, Florida) artwork takes the form of various media and ranges from the abstract to the representational, yet it is always charged with symbolism. Often constructed from familiar “non-art” materials (paint chips, old maps, the sounds of ants, concrete, two-by-fours) that bare traces of previous use, cordova’s drawings, collages, sculptures, audio tracks, videos, and installations interweave places, cultures, and periods frequently perceived as distinct. 

cordova studied painting (BFA School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1996; MFA Yale University, 2004) yet his practice is informed as much by research, writers (bell hooks, Jorge Luis Borges, Zora Neale Hurston, Nicomedes Santa Cruz), and filmmakers (Eulogio Nishiyama, Ousmane Sembène), as it is by artists (Martín Chambi, Coco Fusco, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Adrian Piper, Nancy Spero, Robert Thiele, Purvis Young). cordova’s artwork, like that of many of his cultural touchstones, tests pre-conceived expectations—of beauty, of others—thus conjuring alternative perspectives.

For “ankaylli: spatial and ideological terrain” cordova has created a constellation—a spiral wooden structure “orbited” by sculptures, collages, Polaroids, a video, objects around town, a free newspaper, a website—in which Pre-Columbian traditions, Modern Art and Architecture, and Spiritualism overlap, as indeed they do in Marfa, a town known equally for Native American history, Minimalism, and star-gazing. The exhibition includes poetic and direct references to all three: stepped pyramids patterns, geometric concrete forms, and symbols of the cosmos.

In particular, everything comes together in constelación / constellation (2017), comprising small concrete spheres—made locally by participants in an all-ages workshop—placed at nine points for exchange amongst people in historically divided Marfa: a health clinic, the radio station, schools, the cemetery, a barbershop. The points, when viewed from above as they can be at www.constellationmarfa.com, form what some call the Big Dipper, while others call the same stars a Drinking Gourd or parts of a snake. Included in cordova’s constellation is also the North Star, which has been used throughout time to navigate worldwide, and was used by enslaved Blacks in America searching for freedom. “ankaylli: spatial and ideological terrain”—ankaylli is the Quechuan word for transformer, revolution, or echo—suggests that ideas transmit, and connect rather than divide us across time, space, and culture.

—Kate Green, Curator and Guest Director

A catalogue documenting this project, with essays by Kate Green and Franklin Sirmans, Director of Pérez Art Museum Miami will be published in April 2018.

Visit www.constellationmarfa.com for an interactive map of the nine points included in constelación / constellation (2017).

ankaylli: spatial and ideological terrain owes special Yoseff Ben-Yehuda, Sandro Canovas, Robert Gungor, Miriam Halpren, Bethany Porten, and Simone Rubi. In memory of Elmer Craig.


Events associated with cordova’s exhibition: 

  • The Alchemy of Materials: A Workshop with william cordova + Snacks

September 24, 2-4pm. 

  • cordova leads an all-ages hands-on workshop about using everyday material for symbolic power, to charge sculptures and structures.  


  • Opening with Artist + Reception

October 6, 6-8pm, remarks 7pm


  • Artist & Guests Talk + Light Brunch

October 7, 11am-noon

  • cordova discusses his work with Kate Green and Carter Foster, Blanton Museum of Art. 


  • Artist & Guests Talk + Reception

December 2, 4-6pm

  • william cordova + Robert Pruitt
  • william cordova, Autumn Knight + Kate Green


Upcoming Exhibitions
January 13, 2018