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Leyla Cárdenas

Leyla Cárdenas was born in 1975 in Bogotá, Colombia where she still lives and works. She received her MFA in sculpture from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Los Angeles, CA, USA.

She was part of the Cuenca Biennial in Ecuador (2018) and her work Excisión was part of the show Home, so different, so appealing at the Museum of the Los Angeles County (LACMA) as part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA / LA and in the Museum of Fine Arts of Houston (MFAH) (2017). In addition, her work has been shown at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Galería Max Estrella, Madrid, Casas Riegner Gallery-Bogotá, Q21Museums Quarti-er-Wien,Museo de Arte de Zapopan-México, CAM-Raleigh, Institute of Contemporary Art-San Jose (SJICA), Galería Josée Bienvenu-NY, Museo de Arte Moderno-Medellín, Maison de l ́Amérique Latine-Paris, Apexart-New York, and Banco de la República Bogotá, among others.

Leyla’s residency occurred April 22–May 20, 2019.


Leyla was fascinated by her surroundings in Bataan, the geographical antipode to Colombia and a literal “world away” from her usual comfort zone. She describes the experience of staying at Las Casas, a colonial heritage site with a multi-layered architectural history and integrated artisan workshops, as incredibly stimulating not only in terms of its materiality, but through the questions concerning issues of patrimony, time, displacement, loss, and restoration that arose. 

She was interested in the constant process of construction and preservation carried out by the site’s artisans, who spend each day “slowly building, piece by piece, fragment by fragment, a reconstructed environment, in a communal effort of restoration and care.” Therefore, when she found material to work with during her residency, Leyla likened her work to that of an archeologist attempting to comprehend the whole through its fragments, via a similar process of piecemeal reconstruction.

Intrigued by the site’s charged, multilayered environment and precarious seaside location; wherein time is constantly revealing itself, not due to an act of human erasure, but by the inevitable process of erosion. As a result, she became particularly drawn to the moulds in the workshops as a way to explore these questions: She took a cast of the corner of a window-pane using translucent fibre-glass, which captured an ephemeral outline, or imprint, of the discarded material. Her fully-formed idea was to cast the complete corner of a historical structure that was unable to be transferred to Las Casas, to preserve and reveal aspects of its soon-to-be-erased exterior and interior.

Drawing near the end of her residency, Leyla conducted a collective drawing workshop on the beach with the artisans, during which the participants watched the sea’s inevitable erasure of their sand-made shapes. This experiment was concerned with “the very last edge of solidity that is left when everything else dissolves and erodes”, a concept that is explored and echoed throughout her body of work. 

At the conclusion of her residency, Leyla led our first ESKWELA seminar on the topic of Context Responsive Art Practice titled:

Slicing Lab: a temporal journey through space.


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