William Cordova’s work is tied to an aesthetic of inner city landscapes, reflecting its temporality and disparity. Through drawing, video, sculpture, and installation filled with urban detritus - busted cars, trashed tires, discarded shoes, machetes, speakers, and yellowed books - the artist references the reality of lived experience, as opposed to the dramatization of a consumerist culture. The ease with which Cordova switches between media demonstrates his impressive visual dexterity. Using a language of refuse and dilapidated buildings, he paints grand portraits of deteriorating cultural icons.
Cordova’s sculpture, Moby Dick (for Oscar Wilde, Oscar Romero y Oscar Grant), consists of half a police cruiser set atop blocks and sealed with plywood. The exterior of the car is spray painted, or “tagged,” recalling a history of aerosol-based subversive self-expression popular among Black and Latino artists in the 1970s and 80s. Branded on the car are names of several social activists and figures in the history of civil rights such as (Eldridge) Cleaver, Geronimo, (Betty) Shabazz, and Sitting Bull. Inside the car, behind heavily tinted windows, are a series of seemingly unrelated objects: a machine gun; a Peruvian gourd; record album jackets; a boom box; and a customized bookshelf of the referenced authors. In doing so, Cordova creates a meditative space for reflection apart from the outside world, one not unlike Moby Dick’s quiet abode inside the white whale.
This piece is shown in conjunction with Cordova’s upcoming solo exhibition at the Boston Center for the Arts entitled, “William Cordova: This one’s 4U (pa’ nosotros),” February 10–April 15, 2012, curated by Evan Garza.
William Cordova received his MFA from Yale University in 2004 and BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL in 1996. He was featured in the 2008 Whitney Biennial and is represented by Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, NY.