Meyer Vaisman

Josefina Ayerza

If I look in through the hips of a woman, I sniff out through the nostrils of a pig...
The equation, in Vaisman's Verde por fuera, rojo por dentro (Green Outside, Red Inside) may be a given, because through the hips you see in the viscera of woman.
Green rind, red pulp... the watermelon is in the hammock — the artist calls it patilla (sideburns) as they do in Caracas — and the papaya lies beside it. The papaya, instead, he calls lechosa (milky one). As this flora story goes, la patilla and la lechosa give birth to three pepinos (cucumbers) — on the same hammock, to the other side of la patilla. Although the younger pepino was unwanted, "it was an accident," his parents grew to love him very much. So much that they preserved his room for sixteen years after the adolescent pepino had left home to become an artist in the US. Sixteen years later, it is the new adult pepino that disrupts the family plan, and takes apart the famous room, in order to display it today in the Galería de Arte Nacional of Caracas. The closing rituals of this show lasted for a week.
Initiated by the Bufon (clown) — it is Vaisman himself to model for the role — wearing trousers and a jacket with red and golden lines, the oversized child wears a helmet crowned with three colorful horns. Sprawled, his bare tummy sticks out with amazing nonchalance, between his lips is a lit cigar. The next character is the conguero; the congas player. Then, there is the boxer with red gloves, dancing a boxing dance. Then, in comes the raspadero, with his machine and a red snow-cone, shaving ice. Finally, there is the beautiful black naked woman, now posing close to an isolated arm bearing a coconut, now sauntering with the coconuts in her hands, now carrying a replica of the Moses of Michelangelo, now reading the biography of Stalin, now resting her foot on the seat of a chair... On the walls hang shelves full of books and some other elements, and a globe. A painting depicts the Caraqueño hero, Francisco de Miranda, harbinger of the Independence movement in America, in jail. Might the artist add up yo the hero in jail, the fetus in the womb, the pig in the pen? The sealed room calls on auto-erotic constraint.
On the corrugated metal roof of the sculpture, those forgotten elements — a tire, pieces of wire, hollow bricks — still hold the viewer's attention, in the sense that this unfinished romantic left-over, is saying something more. There is more in Vaisman's concluding words, as he mentions a rolled black pamphlet that parents are given when the child is born: "there they may read how to scour their children" (fregar a un niño) before they learn to smell themselves.

Illustrations: Verde por fuera, rojo por dentro, 1994, view of the hip-shaped holes in the wall and view of the raspadero through the hole.

This article was first published in Flash Art May/June 1995.