Irena Knezevic

Art in America May 20, 2013

Photo: Detail of Irena Knezevic’s Table, 2012, live snake, vitrine and mixed mediums, 36 by 60 by 30 inches overall; at Alderman Exhibitions.

The evocative works in Irena Knezevic’s exhibition “Night of the World” belie the horrifying narrative from which they unfold. These untitled objects were displayed, or, as Knezevic puts it, “dispersed like body parts,” in various tableaux connected to the political history of her native Serbia. Fundamental to understanding them is a text written by the artist, in which she reveals the show’s core inspiration: a World War II diary of the chief officer of the Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia that describes, in exacting detail, the atrocities carried out against antifascists, communist supporters and Jews. The diary also played a role in an accompanying vigil that took place one evening during the show’s run. In the gallery, which was lit only by candlelight, visitors were asked to read passages from the book out loud, reciting scenes of rape, cannibalism and other acts of violence, the brutality of which might otherwise remain unimaginable.

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