“In ictu oculi” is a somewhat loaded Latin phrase that translates roughly as “in the blink [or twinkling] of an eye”. It’s also the title of a famously (and beautifully) grotesque Baroque painting created in Spain in the 1670s by artist Juan de Valdés Leal. Said painting depicts a skeletal Death, coffin tucked under its arm and clutching a scythe, hunched gleefully over a smorgasbord of earthly spoils.
With her video/photo-documented installation by the same name, modern-day Spanish multimedia artist Greta Alfaro –seemingly familiar with the layered meanings of the Latin shorthand and well-aware of the ensuing painting– has found an elegant, rather startling way to revisit many of the same themes Leal did. Alfaro was hidden from view mere meters away as she shot this footage of vultures descending on a feast she had prepared for them.
Alfaro has crafted several video/photo-documented installations in recent years, all of them fastidiously produced, to stark and haunting effect. She states:
“I work about the hidden and the unexpected. We live our lives governed by rules created in order to control chaos and vulnerability, but I am interested in the facts we try to hide or repress, in the differences between the private and the public, in the visibility of our everyday life hypocrisy.”