Eva Schmeckenbecher uses a scalpel to cut out depictions in photographs.
What remains thereafter is the negative silhouette of a form thus created by the surroundings. It is these empty spaces, the missing parts, which provide the quintessential in her photographs. As in a silhouette, the viewer can only deduce the motif from the negative form; whereby, the appeal of the incomplete and missing remains. In the series "Wind Directions" the artist has, so to speak, removed herself from the picture; the story is told only by the landscape and the negative silhouette of her blowing hair: As a contribution to Land-Art, Schmeckenbecher placed herself sequentially in each of four wind directions and documented them as a synonym with the hair correspondingly blowing respectively in different directions.
WHAT REMAINS IS EMPTY
In the series "Memories" figures are also removed from the depictions. These are holiday pictures of a family vacation: people sitting on the beach, some playing ball, swimming in the water. However, repeatedly, some of the people are cut out, so that gaps in the narrative appear. What remains, are fibrous white spots that appear under the emulsion layer of the photographs after cutting. "Skinning" is what Schmeckenbecher once called this process; it tears wounds into the image, but not in order to destroy it, but to draw attention to the layer behind it. Inevitably, questions arise as to who these cut-out people are and why they are missing. One knows of those kind of photographs from which an unpleasant person has been removed or retouched in order to falsify the historical context. Why? Behind every deleted image there seems to be the notion of a memory as it were, a concealment of information. The process of remembering and perceiving is focused by the absence of information. "I would like to take the medium of photography as an apparently credible document ad absurdum and question, interpret, update and approach the depicted again..." the artist is quoted as saying.
QUESTION ABOUT REALITY
Often, what is not said is more meaningful than what is said; it is similar in the photographic works of Schmeckenbecher: the removal of pictorial content throws the viewer back on his capacity for association and experience. Simultaneously, projections surface; whereby, fears and irritations are created. What is reality? That which we see can be recognized on the basis of our experience and can be assigned and classified accordingly? It is precisely the medium of photography that gives the impression of directly reproducing reality. Memorable photos, snapshots show how it really was, how it is. They often serve as indelible evidence because they are so authentic. Really? The intervention under the knife, the damage to the surface, all at once removes the medium from these expectations; thereby, asserting clearly recognizable interventions of the artist. By deleting the individual and removing the original context, the usual validity has been called into question. The beholder's ideas are instantaneously inserted into the gaps.
Translation: David Reling-Burns
Fig.: MEMORY, 2004, 1 of 20 pairs of images, skinned photo, each 7 x 7 cm
Fig.: MEMORY, 2004, 1 of 20 pairs of images, remounted photo layer, 7 x 7 cm