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Exhibition text of NOW (22,48m², Paris, FR) by Camille Prunet, 2024

NOW. Liddy Scheffknecht's invitation to live hic et nunc (here and now) manifests itself in the manipulation of sunlight, which allows her to create forms that are both simple and delicate. Scheffknecht's works do not praise speed; on the contrary, they invite the viewer to become immersed in the present moment as it unfolds, focusing attention on the effects of the earth's rotation. This way, Liddy Scheffknecht produces striking illusionistic effects, yet in a non-demonstrative way, which disturb our senses. The photographic series Untitled (kerria japonica pleniflora) and sunpan, as well as the video wipeout, record moments when the artist uses natural light, as a result of a cut-out system affixed to a window, in order to produce optical effects. We are left wondering:‘Is it just the stroke of a sponge ? Is it really a shadow of the vase?’

In the work entitled “-”, the artist uses this typographic sign to create a hollowed-out rectangle glued to a window. Light passes only through this rectangle, which is then redrawn by the artist every seven minutes on paper laid out on the floor. Depending on the position of the sun, this shape moves across the paper, creating geometric superimpositions. The lines refer to a period of time (here, a morning), made up of intervals or pauses, and constitute a trace of the sun's movements. By revealing the writing of light, the artist unveils the invisible pact between heaven and earth. This is reminiscent of the Japanese concept of ma, which invests what exists between things: “the ma is a space-time interval, a transition, a breath, an in-between whose function is to link (en), not to separate. [...] It is a hollow from which form emerges, as in Lao-tseu's parable according to which a vase would be useless if the potter, in turning the clay, did not hollow it out at its center”. (Serge Bramly, La Transparence et le Reflet). In this way, the line is not only used to outline a thing, it exists in itself and in relation to other lines. In this sense, Liddy Scheffknecht's productions willingly discuss the categories and typologies into which we tend to classify them, playing with materiality and immateriality. The sheer veil that opens the exhibition, bearing the word now translated into different languages, is a clear example of this attitude. The continuity of the living world can be seen in that of the materials, which seem to melt into one another. Poetically sculpting light, the artist powerfully questions our relationship with the image and, by extension, our visual relationship with the world.


Exhibition text of Liddy Scheffknecht - Broken Flowers (Korridor, Wien, AT) by Petra Noll, 2023

(...) In the exhibition Liddy Scheffknecht - Broken Flowers, the «Korridoraum für aktuelle Kunst» partnered with FOTO WIEN 2023.

The artist’s works fit in particularly well with the photo festival theme The Lies of Photography, which is about the authenticity of photography, being and appearance, reality and illusion - a topic that has been under discussion since the invention of photography and to which new aspects can still be found today, and perhaps especially today. Liddy Scheffknecht is exhibiting mostly newly created photographic sequences, individual photographic works and videos as well as wax crayon drawings. The interdisciplinary artist explores the perception of reality, time and space in a playful and experimental way, using unusual materials such as sunlight, shadows and the earth’s rotation. (...)

This exhibition is called Broken Flowers. 'Broken' here means a broken situation. It is not about looking at what is real or false in the usual sense, because everything we see is real and true, even if it is considered ‘fake’. What the photographs tell us is a truth constructed by Liddy Scheffknecht; if we want to «read» these pictures, we have to recognise what the artist wants to say. Flowers - all the pictures show plants, although these do not refer to any aspect of nature or the like, they are to be understood purely as objects. Due to their transience, however, the aspect of time is more strongly present in them than in everyday objects.

The main focus here is on photographic sequences and video works from the Sun Works group of works, poetic situations between being and appearance with sunlight and the earth’s rotation as protagonists. These are based on installations: Firstly, objects - in this case potted plants or cut flowers and supposedly their shadows - are installed in the room. For this purpose, (analogue) stencils made of paper or foil are used in the outline form of the respective object.

Object or plant mounted on a nearby window. When the sun shines through the window, the shadows of the paper or film fall into the room. The rotation of the earth moves the manipulated light and shadow image, which is constantly changing in shape, through the room until the projection appears to dock onto the object/plant. For a moment, the situation seems to fit, for a moment the illusion is perfect - namely when the moulded shadow falls in such a way that it looks as if it is the real shadow of the plant. Liddy Scheffknecht chooses very specific spaces for her installations and yet she is also dependent on the weather, sunlight and the time of day inside, which can often lead to a lengthy process. Liddy Scheffknecht has expanded these installations over the years with a great deal of experimentation. If we look closely at the pictures, there is a different deceptive manoeuvre everywhere, but all with the same intention: they challenge us to look closely and to realise again and again how unstable our perception is. (...)



Shadows in the Moment by Roberto Casati, 2022

Art is the realm of the artificial, of adulteration, modification, and quotation. We can’t point to the sun (or the Atlantic Ocean, or a giant redwood) and promote it as a work of art (or, if we do, we must then spend a good deal of time explaining what we did and why, and wondering if we succeeded). A sign, a gesture, a project, a process, an investment, some work, is necessary to create artistic meaning. We don’t know what a sufficient condition for being art is, but we do know that transformation, intervention, and human labor are necessary.

The environment is always, directly or indirectly, a condition for the existence of an art object: air is the medium in which we see things and, even in museums, natural light filters through windows, however screened. In some cases though, the environment becomes a theme. Of course, when one thinks of environmental art, massive works immediately come to mind: steel obelisks in the desert, islands wrapped in pink plastic foils, extinct volcanoes transformed into places of contemplation, icebergs dragged to melt in some European city’s downtown. These are often ambitious projects requiring major investments and outlining a form of art infrastructure. If the environment is seen as something external—as an “outside” whose defining characteristic is scale, far removed from the human scale—if it cannot be enclosed in a museum, at this point we might as well draw from its dimension, not deprive ourselves of the pleasures of the theatrical-because-big stance. Get ruthless: the artist is one who draws their signature on the landscape, intervenes, modifies it. The artist measures themselves against the environment, which in return gives a measure of the artist’s greatness commensurate to the size of the gesture. The result is spectacular: the crowds flock, the selfie storm is unleashed, the Internet consumed by images that bounce from one story to another. Other paths can be explored, paths in which the environment is the theme and the protagonist. The environment controls the time and space of the work, commands attention, and at the same time is not raped or adulterated. Barely, on tiptoe, it is domesticated; it becomes part of the domus, even if it enters, as we shall see, through a window, it is as if it were appearing through the main door.

Liddy Scheffknecht’s artwork comes with a list of “ingredients.” The term is mine because I’m not sure there is a stable or consensual technical term for the material description of what the artwork is made of. Labels and cataloging usually enlist materials and artistic processes (“oil on canvas,” “tempera on board” etc., where “oil” means both the material and particular process of arranging the material on a support). But it is more difficult to find an appropriate category for “earth rotation,” which appears in Scheffknecht’s works involving shadows. (Curiously, shadows themselves are not named in the list of ingredients, but we’ll come back to that point.)

The rotation of the earth is a process, but it is not a process that is controlled in artistic production (unlike arranging oil on a wooden board). Including it in the list of ingredients is a conceptually salient gesture. There are many physical processes and laws that are part of artistic production—from the drying of a layer of tempera to the presence of gravity that determines the form of a sculpture, to the interaction of light-matter—but their action is, so to speak, in the background, presupposed by the technical operation, not made a salient artistic gesture. The rotation of the earth applies to all works of art created and exhibited on our planet, but it is made salient in some of Scheffknecht’s works in that it determines an “ideal” moment not only for the fruition of the work, but also for its very existence.


A brief and intense conceptual negotiation can be set in motion by the following thought: The shadows seem to change in the room, and indeed if there is anything ephemeral, it is the shadow itself that moves slowly, rotating at the edge of imperceptibility, during the day, appearing and disappearing. Liddy Scheffknecht could have added “shadow” or “moving shadow” to the list of ingredients. It seems important that she didn’t—not only because of the metaphysical status of the shadow, which you don’t necessarily want to consider as an object in its own right and requires special discussion if you treat it as an absence. The “surprising truth” that shadows produced by the sun do not actually move literally also counts. The earth moves (“earth rotation”), but the earth-sun direction does not change: all objects are systematically reoriented during the rotation of the earth with respect to the shadow, which becomes a reference point, an invariant. Contrary to appearances, the shadow is the only fixed object in the scene, a scene that the rotation of the earth drags along with it: illusion becomes reality, reality an illusion.

It takes three actors to produce and make visible a shadow: a light source, an obstacle, and a screen that intercepts the light around the light-gap created in it by the obstacle. The artistic artifice can invest each of these actors or moments: the light can be natural or artificial. If artificial, it will be at distances infinitesimal to those that separate us from the luminous stars. The obstacle can be a natural contingency or the result of an intention that determines its shape, size, position, and orientation in space, and the same goes for the screen. The screen, however, is not a condition for the existence of the shadow, but rather a condition for its epiphany.

The natural shadows in our environment come from a limited number of light sources. The sun and the moon, of course, but also some planets like Venus, Jupiter, and stars like Sirius, which cast weak, low-contrast shadows on new moon nights, shadows that require an effort of concentration, an adaptation, almost a perceptual construction, an effort of the will. A forest fire, a volcanic explosion, generates ephemeral and violent shadows, fast and changeable. But the sun is the prime mover of environmental shadows, into which it insufflates a twofold variety: movement and change of form as the time of day progresses, and change of form as the seasons pass, the more marked the further one is from the equator. shadows do not move—they are static— only a human gesture that moves the light source or the object that casts the shadow can change this rigidity. Time does not flow between the moment we turn on the light bulb and the moment we turn it off; or if it does flow, it is not the artificial shadows that tell us.



Exhibition text of nine to five (Kunstraum Weikendorf, Wien, AT) by Veronika Rudorfer, 2021

«Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living
Barely getting by, it’s all taking and no giving
They just use your mind, and they never give you credit

It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it.»
(Dolly Parton, 9 to 5, 1980, RCA Nashville)

The title of the exhibition nine to five invokes different associations, whether they be the precarious situation of female workers in the US in the beginning of the 1980s that Dolly Parton sings about, David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs described in the book of the same name from 2018, or the current debates about the dichotomy between paid work and unpaid care work.

To understand how work is represented and criticized at the same time in Liddy Scheffknecht’s exhibition nine to five, we must first take a look at her working process. She began by developing a complex experimental set-up for the wallpaper that she then applied to the three walls of the Kunstraum Weikendorf. The wallpaper shows a reproduction of 22 drawings she created between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at four different locations. The course of these eight hours is captured in these drawings in the form of outlines. A stencil was attached to the window in a room for each of these eight hours of the day: amounting to altogether 17 digits, according to the European 24 hour clock. When the sunlight fell through the stencil at the top of each hour onto a piece of paper painted with blue oil pastel, Scheffknecht scratched the numbers into the blue layer, causing them to be permanently visible as white lines. While before the top of each hour the light numbers on the paper are distorted, which can be clearly seen in the drawings, they become more and more straight on the paper as the top of the hour nears. The distortions then increase again with the passing 60 minutes of each hour, this time in the other direction. In this way, the rotation of the earth and the path of the sunlight during a defined period of time become visible in the drawings.

When we look at the numbers more closely, we notice blank spots from when the sun was behind the clouds, which were unavoidable disturbances in the precisely planned experimental setup. Because Scheffknecht’s conceptual approach is to repeat her artistic work over and over, the act of drawing becomes its formal opposite: Instead of color being applied to the paper, parts of the blue oil pastel layer are removed with a screwdriver and a ruler to expose the white lines of the numbers. These are rendered in a typography developed by Scheffknecht that can be found in many of her works, like soon (before and later) (2020) and now (9. September) (2018). It is a font that invokes many associations, like digital displays defined by a certain standardization in form.

The same typography can also be found in the three-dimensional drawings installed in the Kunstraum Weikendorf that spell the word “now.” These three-dimensional drawings also record the transformation of this word within an hour between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Looking through the precise lines of the cut-out letters creates new overlapping views of the wallpaper, generating a tension between the two works as well as between them and their surroundings, charging the period of time in the title with the promise of an immediate temporal designation: the “now” of the present. The redundancy and regularity of nine to five is disrupted; through its anchoring in the present, the continuum of time is severed, as it refreshes itself again and again.


By showing us how differently these eight hours could be used each day and by making time understandable in a pictorial form, Scheffknecht demonstrates the potential these eight hours hold a potential that does not have to correspond with the bureaucratic and redundant 9 to 5, for as Dolly Parton sings, “It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it.”


Exhibition text of points in time (Georg Kargl Box Wien, Wien, AT) by Beate Scheder, 2018

Time is a strange concept. It becomes within subjective perception unpredictable. Sometimes it slips through your fingers like fine sand. And sometimes it seems as if time got stuck, it stands still. The idea of an “absolute, true and mathematical time,” which Isaac Newton formulated at the end of the 17th century, a time, “which in it’s own nature, passes equably without relation to anything external” becomes a mockery, when seconds, minutes, hours, days don’t seem to pass – nothing happening is worth remembering. To measure time, to notice it passing at all, needs something that changes, something that moves, ideally continuously, constantly like the hands of a clock; or, like the sun changing position in the sky as the Earth orbits it. Liddy Scheffknecht made the sun her accomplice. With its help she investigates ways to visualize the course of things, and temporality as such. In her current exhibition at Georg Kargl Box, Scheffknecht presents new works on paper and a group of earlier sculptures in glass. They all share ur-photographic moments, points in time, like the title of the exhibition expresses. Scheffknecht tries to capture moments and transform fugitive situations into static images.

now, 2018, as well as 9 to 5, 2018, are drawings on paper in wax crayon for which the artist developed an ingenious production method: She mounted sheets of paper onto a window, out of which she cut out phrases such as “now”, “9 am” and “5 pm”. Depending on the location of the sun the light falls through the paper cutouts onto the drawing ground – a paper covered with black wax crayon – at different angles. Regarding the work now, the artist scratched the outlines of this light projection into the wax crayon surface at intervals of ten minutes during each day, resulting in a line drawing of overlapping letters. 9 to 5 reveals a similarly rigorous approach, in which Scheffknecht captures, on every morning during a period in summer, the time stated “9 am” and in the late afternoon the specific outlines of the specifically articulated “5 pm” on the paper. At a glance, the white scratching on the black surface recalls star signs of celestial bodies from eons ago. In so doing, the work seems to merge concepts of transience and infinity.

At a closer look, the letters can be identified and their meaning comes into focus: now as the embodiment of a moment which has already passed as soon as you become aware of it; 9 to 5 as model of the traditional working day, which in the current working environment, in which flexibility counts as a key competence, has past-its-used-by-date: in September 2018 Austrian legislation was passed amending the official 8-hour working day to a 12-hour working day. In this work, Scheffknecht reminds us in the market dominated and efficiency orientated world – nothing is in as short supply as available time.

Scheffknecht’s glass sculptures – Bubblegums – can be viewed as playful counterpoints: the bubbles are reconstructed in glass to expand something momentary into something permanent in a different way. Scheffknecht maintains the point of time at which the bubble is at maximum capacity just before bursting, it is a moment of pure childlike carefreeness, comprising an utterly meaningless pleasure that derives its beautify because it‘s already over.



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