Cecilia Edefalk, 24-Hour Venus
Launch date: September 21, 2010, Artist Web Projects
For this project, Stockholm-based artist Cecilia Edefalk photographed an outdoor scene at Västeraspa, near Stjärnholm, Sweden, over a full day near the summer solstice. This series of images will be turned into a time-lapse for visitors to interact with to see how light alters the landscape, giving different dimensions to the scenery.
Special thanks to Carl Henrik Tillberg for photography, to Ulrika von Vegesack for use of the garden and statuary, and to Smita Sathe and Pravin Sathe for Flash programming.
This commission is supported in part by The American-Scandinavian Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts.
In 2020, this project was reprogrammed in HTML5 because Flash is no longer supported by most browsers. The initial Flash version can be viewed here.
For her first web-based artwork, Cecilia Edefalk presents a time-lapse video of an outdoor scene she photographed over twenty-four hours near Stjärnholm, Sweden, during the summer solstice in 2009, when darkness fell for only a few hours. The scene -- comprised of a sculpture of Venus, an empty bench and lush greenery -- changes gradually but perceptibly as the earth rotates. At different points in time, the light reveals starkly different aspects of the landscape, while casting varied shadows on the figure of Venus. A timeline near the bottom of the screen allows the viewer to jump to different points throughout the day, revealing how drastically the light transforms the scene.
As Edefalk considered the invitation to make a work for this series, she thought about how to proceed in a medium lacking the kind of physicality that she could relate to like canvas or clay. Forced to forgo the material and physical circumstances she employs deftly in the creation and installation of her work, she wanted to introduce daylight on the web and give the user a degree of interactivity. While considering these medium-specific challenges, she remembered experiencing ancient statuary under fixed lights in museums. Thinking of their original settings, Edefalk decided to capture the experience of observing natural light interact with a statue outdoors. Living in Sweden, where sunlight is almost unrelenting at the summer solstice, with only a couple of hours of darkness, she decided to record an entire day of viewing on the date that afforded the most hours of sunlight.
Visitors can see the ensuing images, presented here as a time-lapse that loops through day-long cycles, or they can click on the timeline at various points in the day to see how light alters the scene. Edefalk has worked primarily with painting and sculpture. A hallmark of her practice is her tendency to work in series, sometimes painting an image repeatedly over a period of years. One such series, "Double White Venus," was executed over six years, beginning with a photograph the artist took of a sculpture in a Chelsea garden in London in 2000. The paintings range in scale, color tone, and degree of abstraction. These variations in formal qualities, such as the emptying of color and detail, reflect the artist's interest in the transformative effect of time on memory, while demonstrating the use of repetition as a device for expressing different ideas. In Edefalk's work, reiteration and doubling allow for a more heightened perception of an image, or one's memory of it. The removal of details with each iteration of a motif encourages sensitivity in two meanings of the word: utilizing one's vision to discern difference, while evoking a kind of empathy in imagining the artist's reasons for the variation.
An intent observer, Edefalk is keenly attuned to coincidence and detail, finding meaning in what some might consider chance. The series "Double White Venus" came into being as a result of the artist's noticing a flash of light in a garden in London, seeing a silhouette of a figure and the next day discovering (with disappointment) it had been only the statue of Venus and not an apparition. Coincidentally, it was a statue of Venus that was available to her for the photo shoot. She placed the figure so that the face and breasts turn slightly away from the camera, and cropped the pedestal out of the image, to make the figure more nearly anonymous and somewhat less object-like. Accidentally, one photograph was taken during the darkness with a flash on. Rather than edit this out, Edefalk was struck by the incident's reference to the flash of light in the garden that led to her earlier series. Edefalk sees meaning in this doubling, stating "mistakes can be interesting."
Another hallmark of Edefalk's practice is slowness. She is more deliberate than prolific, producing small numbers of paintings, sculptures and installations. Although the film is speeded up approximately 300 times, watching the entire day unfold feels slow to the viewer and requires patience not frequently required online. Recounting the actual photographing of the work, she spoke of a very deep contentedness that arose from intently watching the light change in the garden over the period of a day. 24-Hour Venus is a record of the light on that particular day in that specific place, a reminder of the rewards of seeing and being present.
Cecilia Edefalk was born in Norrköping, Sweden, in 1954. She lives and works in Stockholm.