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Verónica Vides and the Metaphors We Live By

Verónica Vides, “Mimetizada” series, Primavera (Spring), 2013-15, photograph, performance, 23.6” x 15.8.” Thanks to Luz Martínez.

Verónica Vides, “Mimetizada” series, Primavera (Spring), 2013-15, photograph, performance, 23.6” x 15.8.” Thanks to Luz Martínez.

By Raisa Clavijo

At the beginning of September, The Americas Collection will present its second individual exhibition of Verónica Vides, a multidisciplinary Salvadorian artist, who some years ago established her studio in Patagonia, Argentina. Vides explores sculpture, video, photography, performance art and artistic actions, creating solid work through which she captures that sublime beauty that lays hidden in everyday items and situations.

She has a keen perception of her surroundings and a peculiar sensitivity for finding beautiful metaphors in nature. Her work is sustained and enriched by simple objects and situations that appear commonplace.

Verónica Vides, Semillas de carro (Car Seeds), from “Plagas” (Plagues) series, 2015, installation, 20 assembled parts made from fragments of old cars, 11.4” x 7.5” x 7.5.”

Verónica Vides, Semillas de carro (Car Seeds), from “Plagas” (Plagues) series, 2015, installation, 20 assembled parts made from fragments of old cars, 11.4” x 7.5” x 7.5.”

The exhibition will be entitled “Eslabón de lujo” (”Luxury Link”), alluding to a brand of Argentinean washing machines popular in the 1960s, whose sheet metal was the raw material from which she created a piece that bears the same name. All of the sculptures to be presented were created using metal refuse salvaged from Patagonian junkyards. “For some time, I have been working with the idea that the human species is the worst plague to inhabit this planet. I want to call attention to the fact that we are turning our planet into a vast dumping ground,” she says. In addition to the sculptural installation Eslabón de Lujo, the exhibition will include Semillas de carro (Car Seeds), with works created from auto scraps, reminiscent of butterfly cocoons, caterpillars and sea cockroaches. This series addresses the rampant consumerism that characterizes our culture. The annual production of automobiles is astronomical, as are the numbers of human beings acquiring them. Within a few years these cars will be scrapped, thereby contaminating the environment.

Verónica Vides, Eslabón de Lujo (Luxury Link), from “Plagas” (Plagues) series, 2015, installation, 28 pieces, porcelain coated steel from Argentinean ‘Eslabón de Lujo’ washing machines, variable dimensions.

Verónica Vides, Eslabón de Lujo (Luxury Link), from “Plagas” (Plagues) series, 2015, installation, 28 pieces, porcelain coated steel from Argentinean ‘Eslabón de Lujo’ washing machines, variable dimensions.

For her early iron sculptures, Vides selected industrial waste that she recycled and transformed into pieces whose forms follow patterns established by the natural world, patterns that imitate the forms of insects, mangroves, roots, birds’ nests and animals, etc. Previously the artist created iron spiders that appeared to float in the air, projecting shadows on a wall like imaginary spiders’ webs. Iron salvaged from the ruins of old construction projects gained new life thanks to her talent. For Vides, these works represent nature transformed by the tension between internal and external forces. The oxidation and corrosion caused by the passage of time carry a singular beauty and play on textures that she utilizes to reinforce her message. These works are explorations in space and materials, which the artist has been developing since 2001 and since “Trama,” a 2008 exhibition, exceeded the traditional limits of sculpture and expanded to fill the space of the gallery creating a kind of giant embroidery; insect and plant forms made from twisted iron appeared to take shape, exiting and entering the walls like enormous stitches. As the art critic Virginia Pérez Rattón noted in a text about “Trama,” this recycling exercise deals with the artist’s internal search for answers, one immortalized as silent narratives on the walls of the gallery.

Verónica Vides, Libros de cocina (Stove Books), 2013, fragments of a stove from a burned down home, 3.93” x 5.9” x 1.57.”

Verónica Vides, Libros de cocina (Stove Books), 2013, fragments of a stove from a burned down home, 3.93” x 5.9” x 1.57.”

In the exhibition at The Americas Collection, Vides will also present her iron books made from the fragments of stoves, heaters, cars and any iron objects whose form and texture caught her fancy. What was formerly scrap returns in these books, whose pages record vestiges of the passage of time and the essence of untold people and events.

Verónica Vides, “Mimetizada” series, Invierno (Winter), 2013-15, photography, performance, 23.6” x 15.8.” Thanks to Javier Marcos.

Verónica Vides, “Mimetizada” series, Invierno (Winter), 2013-15, photograph, performance, 23.6” x 15.8.” Thanks to Javier Marcos.

Her proximity to nature and her knowledge of the relationship that human beings establish with their environment became more profound as a result of moving with her family to Patagonia after the birth of her son. Her works from the project Open Studio on Blue River include performances, interventions in nature and actions that border on activism1. The exhibition includes eight photos from her piece Mimetizada (2011-2012), in which she intervened in nature for a year, blending into the landscape. This work proposes integrating the human being into the landscape without his intervention affecting the physiognomy of same. “In this series, I intervene natural landscapes near where I live as a metaphor for the action that we humans irretrievably practice on our environment. Whether we be few or many, irregardless of whether we are ‘conscious’ and careful with nature, we always bring about changes in her and in the worst case wreak irreversible contamination and destruction,” Vides says.

Verónica Vides, “Mimetizada” series, Primavera (Spring), 2013-15, photography, performance, 23.6” x 15.8.” Thanks to Luz Martínez.

Verónica Vides, “Mimetizada” series, Primavera (Spring), 2013-15, photograph, performance, 23.6” x 15.8.” Thanks to Luz Martínez.

Another one of her works from this phase, Devoluciones (2012), consisted in a performance during which the artist gathered pieces of plastic thrown in the rivers and forests near the community of El Bolsón. Then, clad with a mask made from woven plant fibers, she returned the pieces of plastic and polluting residue gathered during the artistic action to the inhabitants of that community. This gesture transformed into social activism carries an implicit message, which calls attention to the invasive and negligent behavior of human beings that will end up destroying the planet.

Verónica Vides, “Mimetizada” series, Verano (Summer), 2013-15, photography, performance, 23.6” x 15.8.” Thanks to Loic Leblond.

Verónica Vides, “Mimetizada” series, Verano (Summer), 2013-15, photograph, performance, 23.6” x 15.8.” Thanks to Loic Leblond.

Vides presents us with an oeuvre that observes, studies and explores human behavior. She rediscovers and finds poetry in the situations and materials utilized as the foundation for her oeuvre. Her works constantly question the status quo and reflect on existence and the role of man in the universe.

Verónica Vides, “Mimetizada” series, Otoño (Fall), 2013-15, photography, performance, 23.6” x 15.8.” Thanks to Kira Domínguez.

Verónica Vides, “Mimetizada” series, Otoño (Fall), 2013-15, photograph, performance, 23.6” x 15.8.” Thanks to Kira Domínguez.

Vides has participated in numerous individual and collective exhibitions in El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Australia, Argentina, Mexico and the United States. She has received prizes at the Bienal del Salvador, la Bienal de Artes Visuales del Istmo Centroamericano and Bienal Arte Paiz (El Salvador), among other awards. Her pieces form part of the permanent collection of the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de México, Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo de Costa Rica, Fundación Teorética de Costa Rica, Museo de Arte de El Salvador and Colección Ortiz Gurdián, León, Nicaragua.

Notes

1. These have not been the only times Verónica Vides has been involved in social activism. In her native country she was involved in numerous actions that were the basis for important works such as Limpieza (2010), La Barrida (2010), Comámonos el dulce (2010) and Trabajo barato (2006). www.veronicavides.com.

“Luxury Link” opens on September 3rd, 2015, 7:00 pm. The Americas Collection is located at 4213 Ponce de Leon Blvd. Coral Gables, Florida, 33146 / Phone: 305 446 5578 / www.americascollection.com