Photographing and capturing life

Thursday, 06 February 2014 11:52 Written by Angélica Abelleyra
Throughout an extensive career she has witnessed neglect and focused on time, rejection and the exhaustion that reach through her skin into her soul.
Abandoned train stations and portraits of persons waiting for the carriage featured in the first exhibition by Yovanovich, a diminutive Cuban who saw the world through a camera given to her at home, but perfected her skills in Mexico, with a deep commitment to photography that confronts and captures us. This comprises self-portraits that face up boldly to fears, and installations that question our doubts and unresolved inner life.
For many years she visited a small refuge behind the Villa de Guadalupe. There, she merely gazed in silence, cried, chatted, interacted and finally produced portraits of the elderly ladies in Prison of Dreams. This loving and fully engaged reflection on a vital period of life has featured in travelling exhibitions throughout the world, as well as a book (with a prologue by Elena Poniatowska and a joint publication with Casa de las Imágenes, the Centro de la Imagen and the National Council for Culture and the Arts) and received the Casa de las Américas Prize (Cuba, 1990).
Influenced by the work of Graciela Iturbide and Dwayne Michels, and an admirer of Pedro Meyer and Gerardo Suter’s works, Yovanovich realized the attraction she felt when visiting online spaces, where she felt protected. There, she celebrated the reign of light: outlines, shafts and arches that slip uninvited through the windows and curtains of a room in which old persons speak, groom their long hair and shoo away pigeons or spirits. Among them, like a ghost, Yovanovich depicts the passage of time, without the artifice of poetry that many give to old age. Firmly and without touch-ups.
Passionate about self-portraits, she loves the work she captures. “The artist has an opportunity to confront the viewer, and I will not miss this chance”, she smiles, having long learnt the technical secrets to transgressing conventions. “One cannot break something without knowing how to put it together. For me, photography is not only framing but also seeing light, carefully developing and blowing up, taking the necessary time.”
This is the key to Vida Yovanovich: time. She produces its portrait, and offers it to us. Indeed, she spent three years with these old ladies, blending in with them, becoming invisible and daring to capture images that give a fresher face to our distress and suspicion.
Text originally published in La Jornada Semanal (February 27 2000), part of a book edited by the Autonomous University of Nuevo León (UANL).
Read 1758 times Last modified on Friday, 14 February 2014 11:11