Gasworks presents Out of an instance of expiration comes a perennial showing, the first UK solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Gala Porras-Kim. Her work investigates the institutional frameworks that define, legitimise and preserve cultural heritage, questioning the ethics of museum conservation and inviting the viewer to assign new meaning to artefacts extracted from their original sites and stored in archaeological collections across the world.
Porras-Kim’s new work stems from research she undertook during a residency at Delfina Foundation, London, in 2020. With a focus on the British Museum’s vast collection of funerary art from ancient Egypt and Nubia, the artist examines the institutional afterlife of ceremonial objects and human remains displayed inside vitrines or assembled in storages, thinking through alternative ways of negotiating between the museum’s agenda and the invisible forces governing the eternal rest of their original owners.
The resulting artworks consist of concrete —if often unorthodox— proposals to improve the material and spiritual conditions of artefacts stored in archaeological collections around the world, including those of the Metropolitan in New York, the Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro, and the Gwangju National Museum. These are accompanied by letters to their staff in which the artist raises questions about institutional policies regarding the conservation of human remains.
The exhibition features large-scale drawings, sculptures and sound work made in response to specific items found at the British Museum and other encyclopaedic collections. Porras-Kim’s work challenges museums to interrogate their own histories and to become better stewards of the objects they own. Asking whether it’s possible for such objects to continue to perform their original function as spiritual offerings, the exhibition at Gasworks unravels the many worlds colliding in these powerful stones, from institutional frameworks and colonial legacies, to ancient cosmologies and forces greater than us.
Interrogating the methodologies of museum conservation, Porras-Kim’s new body of work explores the way in which encyclopaedic institutions deal with a broad range of living entities in their collections, from spirits and supernatural forces inhabiting the objects on display to fungi and microorganisms in their storages.
For more information about works in the exhibition please download: Exhibition Guide
Gala Porras-Kim is an artist born in Bogota and based in Los Angeles. Her work has been featured at the São Paulo Biennial; Gwangju Biennale; Whitney Biennial; LACMA, Los Angeles; and Made in LA Biennial, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. She has received awards including Creative Capital, Joan Mitchell Foundation, and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation. She was a recent Radcliffe fellow at Harvard, and is currently artist-in-residence at The Getty.
Gasworks is open 12-6pm, Wednesday to Sunday. There is no booking required. If you would like to visit in a group and have a free introduction to the exhibition please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Gasworks is fully accessible. Large print versions of the exhibition guide are available at Gasworks. Listen to an audio recording of the exhibition guide here.
We encourage visitors to wear masks in the gallery for their safety, that of our staff and those with underlying health conditions.
Gala Porras-Kim’s exhibition is commissioned and produced by Gasworks, with generous support from the Henry Moore Foundation and the Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK). Research for the exhibition was developed during a residency at Delfina Foundation, supported by the Latin America and Caribbean Patrons Group.
Gasworks commissions are supported by Catherine Petitgas and Gasworks Exhibitions Supporters.