somatic significations 

curated by Kara Q. Smith

artists Sofía Cordova, Xandra Ibarra, and Yetunde Olagbaju

The three artists in somatic significations consider the transformative agency of subjectivity through their interdisciplinary practices. Sofía Cordova, Xandra Ibarra, and Yetunde Olagbaju reject, reconstruct, and recover narratives of identity using a wide range of media. Connecting their complex creative processes is an underlying emphasis on performativity.

Performance enables the artists to traverse between the internal (personal) and external (environment) to generate new translations of past, present, and future. Works included in this exhibition engage and transcend the corporeal to underscore themes of ritual, identity, and visibility. Taken together they bring forth radical and vulnerable understandings of self, time, and place at a moment when new agency and significations are desperately needed to reconcile a landscape of turmoil and inequity.— Kara Q. Smith, curator


Sofía Córdova

Born in 1985 in Carolina, Puerto Rico and currently based in Oakland, Sofía Córdova creates new media interventions that explore sci-fi, futurity, extinction and mutation, especially as they relate to human acceleration of climate change under the conditions of late capitalism and its technologies.

She received her BFA from St. John’s University in conjunction with the International Center for Photography in 2006. She received her MFA from the California College of the Arts in 2010. She has exhibited and performed at SFMOMA, the Berkeley Art Museum, and Southern Exposure as well as other venues internationally. She has participated in residencies at the BAVC in San Francisco, Arteles in Finland, Mills College Museum in Oakland, the ASU Museum’s International Artist residency in Phoenix which concluded with her solo exhibition, Where Thieves Go After Death. Most recently, she developed a new suite of performances, videos and sound compositions in Spain in an artist residency supported by Spanish embassy in Washington DC and the city of Málaga, Spain. Her work is part of Pier 24’s and The Whitney Museum’s permanent collections and was recently the subject of a First Look feature in Art in America

Xandra Ibarra

Xandra Ibarra is an Oakland-based performance artist from the El Paso/Juarez border who performs and works under the alias of La Chica Boom. Ibarra uses hyperbolized modes of racialization and sexualization to test the boundaries between her own body and coloniality, compulsory whiteness, and Mexicanidad. Her practice integrates performance, sex acts, and burlesque with video, photography, and objects. Throughout her multiple works, she teeters between abjection and joy and problematizes the borders between proper and improper racial, gender, and queer subject.

Ibarra’s work has been featured at El Museo de Arte Contemporañeo (Bogotá, Colombia), Broad Museum (LA, USA), Popa Gallery (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Joe’s Pub (NYC), PPOW Gallery (NYC), and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (SF) to name a few.  Recent residencies include Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, National Performance Network, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts.  She has been awarded the Art Matters Grant, NALAC Fund for the Arts, ReGen Artist Fund, and the Franklin Furnace Performance and Variable Media Award. 

Yetunde Olagbaju

Yetunde Olagbaju is a multidisciplinary artist and collaborator currently residing in Oakland, CA. Through her work, she concerns herself with time travel, space, source, vulnerability, ancestry, and the human relationship to the Blackness of the universe.  

Through video, installation, performance, sound, and ritual she aims to illuminate paths of deep emotional kinship within the human experience. This is with the distinct desire to reimagine past, present, and future. To manifest and highlight the seen and unseen bridges for that exchange.  Having received a BFA from Beloit College in Studio Art and Museum Studies, Olagbaju’s praxis is deeply rooted in the exploration of self, radical vulnerability, storytelling, and utilizing lineage as the basis for true time travel.

She has displayed work at the Oakland Museum of Art, SOMArts, The New School, New Image Gallery and has worked with institutions such as San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of the African Diaspora, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Kara Q. Smith

Kara Q. Smith is a curator, editor, and occasional writer based in San Francisco and Napa. She serves as assistant curator at di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art and editor-in-chief of thematic issues at Art Practical. 

This exhibition is supported by the Oakland City Council and funded by the City of Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program.