William Cordova, O.T. SANDANISTA, 2006, found book covers, 20,8 x 27 cm / 8.19 x 10.63 inch, CORD0061
Arndt & Partner Berlin are pleased to present the first solo show of William Cordova in Germany. Born in 1972 in Lima, Peru, the artist has lived in Lima and Miami since his youth. William Cordova employs a wide range of artistic media and techniques in his work, but in the exhibition presented here Pálante – which translated from the colloquial Spanish means »forwards« or »to carry on« – sparse drawings and pared down collages predominate.
Mostly small format drawings are set against light coloured monochrome backgrounds. Sometimes they are crudely crossed over and covered with broad black adhesive tape. The images mainly depict accumulated and discarded objects, which seem to have acquired their own surreal presence. William Cordova’s iconographic repertoire comprises loud speakers, records, microphones, boards, car tyres, little black books roughly the size of the Maoist bible. Removed from their usual function and artfully arranged in the manner of still lifes, from time to time the objects take on human characteristics as for example in one step up 2 steps back. The artist defines his artistic practice as a »trickster« and the use of the found object as the »reality of lived experience«. The objects convey instability and dilapidation, while at the same time being anarchic. They seem to have come alive and to possess an urge to rebellion and conspiracy – just like symbols of resistance. The artist investigates the history of anarchy and the causes of such actions and »uprisings« within certain social groups. Alongside everyday materials such as folded paper, the use of gold leaf comes as a surprise: it forms the ground not for a religious subject, but for profane objects, such as a lorry left in no-man’s land (Wholesellers) or a stack of records being attacked by microphones (No nacimos pá semilla (or coin, tel, pro). Along with its association with Peru, gold leaf is evocative above all of icon painting – the embodiment of melancholy and contemplation, as in the classic film Nosthalgia by Andrej Tarkowskij, which the artist alludes to not least because of the themes of distance and exile.
William Cordova’s mosaic of film, music and literature fragments is reminiscent of vernacular language and situates his work close to Appropriation Art. The titles contain a play on quotations referring amongst other things to the Third Cinema movement, Frantz Fanon, Henry David Thoreau, Tupac Amaru, or Jorge Luis Borges or to films such as Fitzcarraldo by Werner Herzog. Works such as the sculpture This is not 4 U – a radio encased in aluminium and plexiglas – or the drawing On the low frequencies I speak 4 U (para R. Means y D. Banks), in which quiet or whispering voices find their expression in wafer-thin pencil lines on paper, represent a kind of »cultural archaeology« (Gean Moreno, Flash Art). Besides numerous group exhibitions in the USA and Europe, including the 49th Venice Biennial (2003), William Cordova has presented solo exhibitions in renowned institutions, such as the P.S.1-Contemporary Art Center, New York (2006), or the MOCA-Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2003). In 2007 he will participate in the group show Street Level at the Nasher Museum, North Carolina.
Translations: Elizabeth Kilburn