On view

Cosmic Mirror (The Sky Over New York), 2022, reconfigured 2023
Steel with patina
Courtesy the artist and Commonwealth and Council
Cosmic Mirror (The Sky Over New York) (2022, reconfigured 2023) is formed by eleven boulders made of patinated hammered steel nestled into the grass of Museum Hill like asteroids that have fallen to Earth from the cosmos. The steel boulders are arranged in the pattern of what in the Western world is called Orion, a constellation that has been given many names by other cultures, including the Maya, though not known to us today. Cortez chose the form of this constellation because it is visible, at different times of the year,  over both New York, where the work is currently installed, and Los Angeles, where the artist’s studio is located. The work’s relative position to the stars changes based on its geographic location, illustrating that no two vantage points of the sky are the same.

The sculpture was inspired by an ancient Olmec mosaic of a jaguar’s head that was buried immediately after it was laid, meant to be visible to the underworld, a sacred place in Mayan culture. As Cortez explains, “Lava flows under the volcanic range that unites my two homes, Los Angeles and San Salvador. The underworld is not divided by these borders.”

In considering the different ways this work could be experienced, Cortez decenters the role of the human viewer, instead imagining it to be observed at a great distance, either from above or below. Cortez considers Cosmic Mirror to be a “hyperobject”—a concept or phenomenon beyond human comprehension.