Prickly, unsettling art in this year’s Florida Prize exhibition forecasts a dystopian near-future 

Sour times

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RTR: I appreciated Cordova's care in creating the installation "The house that Frank Lloyd Wright built 4 fred hampton y mark clark (despues de Atahualpa)." You can walk right through the wood frame structure that re-creates the apartments where the two Black Panthers referenced in the title were shot.

It was crisp and clean and well-crafted. His series "transmissions: a more radical elsewhere," "untitled (spiritual underground)" and "syncretism (paraq purinaykipeq)" were some of the best mixed-media work I have seen in a long time. They're sensuous, almost lyrical compositions of painted images, scraps of paper, gold leaf, Pearl Jam lyrics and other items that tell cross-cultural stories. His masterful light touch gathers Peruvian and American perspectives; it's very transcendentalist.

click to enlarge “The house that Frank Lloyd Wright built 4 fred hampton y mark clark (despues de Atahualpa),” installation by William Cordova
  • “The house that Frank Lloyd Wright built 4 fred hampton y mark clark (despues de Atahualpa),” installation by William Cordova

JBY: I most enjoyed the line of tiny drawings marching along the wall outside the two-by-fours of the house – I felt more humor and social engagement in them, but that's a personal preference. Of course "The house that ..." is socially engaged; it manages to contain a crackling fire of anger in its sere bare bones. For this piece alone, Cordova deserved the prize.

RTR: This year, the show seems to fit into two or three categories. Sculptures by Provisero, Westfall and Cordova symbolically reference war, terrorism, murder – but are so clean and pristine that the references are almost hidden. One longs for a spot of blood on Westfall's gate or bullet splinters in Cordova's wood stud walls; something, anything to mar the surface. This extends to Hargrove's colored cairns, Iglesias' drawings, and the videos by Gerstein, Fusco and Castillo. In Marshall McLuhan's terms, they are "cool" and cerebral. Then, with Gutierrez' paintings, Juste's photographs of the Haitian election scenes and Hargrove's cardboard box towers, you get a little more texture, more human element ... stuff's a little less cooked and more raw, but it is still in the medium-well category. There's no rare steak dripping blood here, little of the happy accident. Accidents, whether happy or not, are bad. At least that is how I read this show.

JBY: Obsessing over the apocalypse is just a way of trying to control it, whether you're celebrating it – truthfully or ironically – or trying to stave it off. Are we headed for end-times catastrophe? Is it all just part of the eternal cycle? Or is it time to go into the forest and get it on until the end of the world?

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