I know it’s not Texas, and it’s certainly not Miami, but there are some projects that are so well thought out, so surprising and so poetic that they should be shared outside the context they are in. A few days ago I had the pleasure of seeing a project that is just that: thoughtful, surprising and poetic.
I was invited to the opening of a show titled 251,312,000 by artist Veronica Gerber at the Centro Cultural de España in Mexico City a few days ago. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect since its curatorial premise is based on the disappearance of archives and libraries with the digitization of texts and journals. All the work was honest and sincere, and walked the viewer through the realization of what it feels like to walk through phantom shelves. But there was one work in particular that not only blew me away, it really made me think of how archives, libraries and my relationship with language has shaped how I approach visual arts.
Veronica Gerber made me confront that relationship with an ambitious installation piece that explores the relationship between lost libraries and archives in a language that cannot be understood with the eyes, forcing a literal distance between the viewer and the library space that no longer exists. In braille, the artist installed the names of libraries that had been closed throughout history. In an ironic twist, the normal viewer is unable to decipher the language. In a metaphorical play on words installed on the surrounding buildings, Gerber’s Biblioteca Ciega (Blind Library) forces the viewer to seek out the piece and walk the perimeter of the Centro Cultural de España. She subtly asks her audience to seek out the forgotten libraries that had been left abandoned and eventually closed, recalling their places in history and archiving them in a wonderful work of art.