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“When I look at the law and also museum policy, it’s just so close to conceptual art making. You have a lot of material and you’re just trying to define how it lives in the world, except with the law, everybody agrees. With conceptual art, you have to convince people to believe in it.”

Gala Porras-Kim is an interdisciplinary artist whose work is both conceptually rigorous and visually compelling. Born in Bogotá and based in Los Angeles, Porras-Kim creates art that explores the relationship between historical objects and the institutions that collect and display them. From writing letters questioning how museums handle artifacts to creating sculptures that honor the spiritual lives of antiquities, Porras-Kim’s practice is part concept, part material manifestation.

The artist’s current exhibition, Precipitation for an Arid Landscape, focuses on the Peabody Museum’s collection of thousands of artifacts originally found in a giant sinkhole: the Sacred Cenote at Chichén Itzá on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. The exhibition is one in a series of solo shows at the Amant Foundation in Brooklyn, Gasworks in London, and the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis. The work is based partly on research Porras-Kim carried out while she was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard and an artist in residence at the Getty Research Institute.

In this episode, Porras-Kim muses about rummaging through museum archives, the rights of mummies, and potlucks in the Pink Palace.

More to explore:

Meet the Getty Research Institute’s Newest Artist in Residence learn more
Precipitation for an Arid Landscape explore the exhibition

JIM CUNO: Hello, I’m Jim Cuno, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust. Welcome to Art and Ideas, a podcast in which I speak to artists, conservators, authors, and scholars about their work.
GALA PORRAS-KIM: When I look at the law and also museum policy, it’s just so close to conceptual ar...

Music Credits
“The Dharma at Big Sur – Sri Moonshine and A New Day.” Music written by John Adams and licensed with permission from Hendon Music. (P) 2006 Nonesuch Records, Inc., Produced Under License From Nonesuch Records, Inc. ISRC: USNO10600825 & USNO10600824

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This post is part of Art + Ideas, a podcast in which Getty president Jim Cuno talks with artists, writers, curators, and scholars about their work.
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