Especular (Threshold): Leyla Cárdenas
Curated by Chon Noriega
Presented by LACMA and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center
The Colombian writer Manuel Hernández B. defines his nation’s capital, Bogotá, as a permanent threshold that announces the promise of a place that never arrives. Leyla Cárdenas’s Especular provides a real-world yet ghost-like image of this insight with her set of photographic prints of Bogota’s neoclassical train station façade.

First built in the late 1880s – concurrent with the formation of the Republic of Colombia – the station is a once-hopeful symbol of the nation that then became a long abandoned modern ruin. Cárdenas represents the façade with two printed scrims suspended back-to-back from the ceiling, over twenty feet up, and running a similar distance along the floor.

These discontinuous panels are cut to match the different track gauges used in Colombia that made a unified national transportation infrastructure impossible. Especular is part of a series in which the artist documents the architectural remnants of the urban fabric. Cárdenas reflects on these artworks as illustrating “History repeating itself: vicious circles and accumulation of thresholds that lead nowhere.”

About the artist:
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). Cárdenas’s installation, sculpture, mixed-media work delves into urban ruins and cities landscapes as indications of social transformation, loss and historical memory. Remains, fragments, discarded structures, are used as material for her work, with a sculptural strategy that is as much destructive as constructive. In 2016-16, she was a resident fellow at the Jan Van Eyck Academie for the NEARCH project “The Materiality of the Invisible” establishing a critical dialogue between artists and archeologists.