Critics’ Picks

Vida Yovanovich, Sálix Babilonica (Salix Babylonic), 2011, color, sound. Installation view.

Vida Yovanovich, Sálix Babilonica (Salix Babylonic), 2011, color, sound. Installation view.

Mexico City

Vida Yovanovich

Laboratorio Arte Alameda
Dr. Mora 7 Col. Centro
July 26–September 14, 2014

In Vida Yovanovich’s latest exhibition, “Grita en silencio/Memoria que se borra” (Shout in Silence/Memory That Vanishes), eight video-and-sound installations deal with the atrocious fate of the victims at Mauthausen, one of the deadliest concentration camps of World War II. Within a muted landscape and seemingly inhospitable architecture, Yovanovich creates a view into a dense yet empty context. Certain that we can only intend to approach the unfathomable if experienced as temporal duration, her almost deathly still films hold watch, capturing a place beyond any possible narrative.

Over the course of four years, the artist explored the site’s devastating past, producing, among other impressive works, Sálix babilónica (Salix Babylonic), 2010–14, a video installation that captures a lone willow tree throughout the seasons. Four nearly floor-to-ceiling projections of the peacefully undaunted tree surround the viewer in the gallery, conveying the cyclical passage of time in nature. This changes, however, upon realizing that on the floor at the center of the gallery is an outlined square that measures approximately 172 square feet—the dimensions of gas chambers used in concentration camps. Synergistically, our bodies unwittingly occupy the symbolic core of the genocide.

Yet, Yovanovich’s almost motionless visions retain hope for the still latent meaning of life. In one instance, a bird flies down from the autumnal willow, disappearing as quickly as it appeared. With this simple gesture, Yovanovich offers us a past that is palpable, yet in motion.

Translated from Spanish by Jane Brodie.