Xilitla Melanie SMith & Rafael Ortega
Melanie Smith deals with a wide range of issues of perception. Visual contents of Western modernity are brought into context with Latin American culture. She is based in Mexico City since 1989 and the country has a major influence on her work.
In the film Xilitla
from 2010, made in collaboration with Rafael Ortega, the focus is the surrealist garden, Las Pozas de Xilitla. It is a venue remotely located in the midst of Mexico created by the English writer Edward James between 1960 and 1984. A patron of the arts and fascinated by the surrealists he transformed the environment and integrated architecture and concrete structures in the immense project. To capture the venue and the buildings, the expected landscape format is changed to a standing image. Gardeners carry around a large mirror that captures fragments of the land while the camera seizes the moment. The work links to artist Robert Smithson who placed mirrors in the Mexican nature, described in his travelogue Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan
, 1969. With repetitions and reflections the non-linear narrative forms a meditation on the territory. Away from the urban context, the art in the beech wood forest at Wanås and the ruins in the tropical rainforest share a sensation of the dreamlike, nature’s changes and the inevitable cycle of decay. — Elisabeth Millqvist
was born 1965 in Poole, England, and has been living and working in Mexico City since 1989. She has on several occasions worked with filmmaker Rafael Ortega. In 2011 she represented Mexico at the Venice Biennial. She has exhibited extensively in Europe as well as South and North America. Xilitla
is included in the Tate Collection.