Blue, often the color used to describe sadness and loneliness, acquires a much larger meaning in Yishai Jusidman’s “Prussian Blue” exhibit at the University Contemporary Art Museum (MUAC). Here, it evokes the suffering and collective memory of Jews in the Holocaust. Jusidman specifically chose Prussian blue because it approximates, in color, the pesticide used by Nazis in gas chambers in concentration and extermination camps. Jusidman’s large sober paintings abstain from representations of violence and instead ask the viewer to inject their own meaning, resulting in humanistic memorializations of the dead.
Images of death and violence cloud and color our perception of tragedy, desensitizing us, in many instances, from the concrete acts of violence and their effects. In Susan Sontag’s many writings about violence, she warns that depictions of violence in images often do little to incite response, either in affect or in action. In “Regarding the Pain of Others,” she turns to narrative, and argues that fuller stories that include the social or political background can often do much to teach us about incidents and properly commemorate victims. However, Jusidman finds another way to anchor meaning in image.
Jusidman readily moves away from realistic depictions of violence. Instead, his paintings of empty chambers and blank walls ask the viewer to do the work and imagine their histories. The images’ potential to evoke meaning lies in their ability to hide the devastation of the Holocaust. Jusidman uses a visual silence to respectfully address collective mourning while not adding to the thousands of images that have made viewers callous to the suffering of others.
“Prussian Blue” is on display at MUAC until Feb. 12.
On Wed., Fri., and Sun. the exhibit is open from 10-6 p.m. and costs 20 pesos.
On Thur. and Sat. it is open from 10-8 p.m. and costs 40 pesos.