Elisabeth Wild

(clockwise from top left) Elisabeth Wild, Untitled (2016), collage, 20.5 × 20 cm; Untitled (2016), collage, 31 × 26 cm; Untitled (2016), collage, 24.5 × 20 cm; Untitled (2016), collage, 24.5 × 19.5 cm, Elisabeth Wild and Proyectos Ultravioleta, Guatemala City

Elisabeth Wild, Fantasias, 2016–17, collages, Athens Conservatoire (Odeion), documenta 14, photo: Mathias Völzke

Elisabeth Wild, Fantasias, 2016–17, collages, installation view, Neue Galerie, Kassel, documenta 14, photo: Mathias Völzke

Nací en Viena (Austria) el 6 de febrero de 1922. En 1938 emigré con mis padres, Franz und Stefanie Pollak, a la Argentina, a Buenos Aires. Aprendí a pintar con un artista de la Academia de Arte de Viena, Eichhorn. En el Círculo de Bellas Artes de Buenos Aires dibujé desnudos con un maestro. Pude participar en exposiciones en Buenos Aires y Mar del Plata. Me ganaba la vida haciendo diseños para imprimir sobre tela. Así conocí a mi esposo, August Wild, de nacionalidad suiza. Tuvimos una hija, Vivian, que nació en 1949. En 1962 nos mudamos a Basilea, Suiza. Allí abrí una tienda de antiguedades en un edificio histórico. En 1996 me trasladé a Panajachel (Guatemala) para vivir con mi hija, donde participé en varias exposiciones. Mis trabajos más recientes son collages.

This is the story of Elisabeth Wild’s life, as told by herself, in 2012, in twelve condensed sentences of her special Spanish. Wild’s rich biography spans the long twentieth century, beginning in Vienna, in a Jewish wine merchants’ family that managed to flee Nazism for Argentina. There she would make a living in textile design, marrying textile industrialist August Wild. It is where their daughter Vivian would be born. Due to a political climate determined by Juan Perón’s right-wing policies, the family moved to Basel in 1962. There Wild would run an antique shop. In 1996, she returned to Latin America with Vivian (Suter) to live in Panajachel, on Lake Atitlán. Here, despite the tranquil beauty of common living and working on the edge of a tropical forest, mother and daughter have faced natural disasters and witnessed human cruelty: hurricanes and mudslides damage their estate, and local narcos remain a threat to villagers and gringos alike.

Wild’s recent practice is collage, a meditative daily exercise in leafing through and cutting out lifestyle magazine pages, giving shape to inner experience, affording flight from the known. Crystalline architectures of high-gloss cutouts fill page after page—Wild trades mostly in the inanimate, built, and mineral world. The work emerges as sediment processed through the iconography of cool chic; pretty much anything, from lipstick advertising to the decor of luxury interiors to fashion accessories, can catch Wild’s attention. Hers is a magpie strategy: she collects pieces of worldly glitz and bling to free them from the commodity system and turn all-too-familiar pictures into new images. Wild’s kaleidoscopic worlds—she terms them Fantasías—exert their own, special allure.

—Adam Szymczyk

Posted in Public Exhibition
Excerpted from the documenta 14: Daybook