Cecilia Edefalk: Art Institute of Chicago

By Grabner, Michelle | Artforum International, April 2006 | Go to article overview

Cecilia Edefalk: Art Institute of Chicago


Grabner, Michelle, Artforum International


Seven years ago, Swedish artist Cecilia Edefalk visited London and embarked on a quasi-mystical journey that began at Tate Britain. Purchasing a drink in the museum's cafeteria, she noticed that it was stamped with an unusually precise expiration date and time--May 6, 2000, 15:33--which led her to wonder what she would be doing at that very moment. It so happened that she found herself back in London on the date in question. Having retraced her steps and revisited the museum, she attended a dinner in a private garden in Chelsea, where she saw a dazzling blue flash and a mysterious silhouette. Returning the next day with a camera, she discovered (her memory and the actuality proving disconcertingly divergent) that the figure she had glimpsed was a statue of an armless, legless Venus, standing on a plinth in a grotto of fig trees. The resultant black-and-white photograph inspired the twelve paintings that compose "Double White Venus," her first US solo exhibition.

The circuitous route by which Edefalk came to the image is typical of a methodology based on the experience of memory. It is not the repeated image of the statue that is central to each painting, but rather the process of reflection on the events that led her to it. In these works, the Venus figure is merely a vehicle for exploring ideas of originality and repetition, specifically their influence on recollection. A slow-working and deliberate artist, Edefalk completed the dozen paintings in the exhibition over the course of six years, and the numinous narrative that gave birth to them is as essential to her project as the extended period of time that framed their production. …

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