Romana Scheffknecht: 1983–2013

Cat. Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck

Exhibition catalogue, edited by Beate Ermacora
texts (German/English) by Andrea Hörl, Cornelia Offergeld, and an interview with the artist by Patricia Grzonka
88 p with 50 coloured illustrations
245 x 195 mm, hardcover

ISBN 978-3-86442-048-1

(out of print)

The really big feelings …

The subconscious, so it is said, has its birthplace in Vienna – and no wonder, in a city that, since the fifteenth century at the behest of ­military contingency, boasts an ­interconnecting underground network of tunnels and pathways. This is where Romana Scheffknecht ties in her video »Air Raid Shelter« from 1991. It comprises simple white stripes that glow at times like flashing stairs from the black background of a monitor, or at times two moving white lines that are projected horizontally and vertically from video beamers onto a wall to meet in the middle as a cross, or three radiant, pulsating monitor images that simultaneously shine on a sheet of glass and that, in their additive reflection, seem like an eternally rising and descend­ing white sun against a black background. These three individ­ual video and light installations are accompanied by a throbbing sound that ebbs and flows mercilessly and which is nothing more than a siren. This is how simply, nastily and claustrophobically the concepts of art and war can be treated. These and other works are the framework for the catalogue that features numerous installation views and which has just been ­published on the occasion of a retro­spective at the Galerie im Taxis­palais. Romana Scheffknecht was born in 1952 and started her studies in Oswald Oberhuber’s open class in Vienna and continued in Nam June Paik’s video class in Düsseldorf; in 1989, she took part in the most important survey exhibition up until that date, »video sculpture current and retrospective 1963­–1989 « at the Kölnischer Kunstverein. Since 1997, she is ­directing the Media Art Archive in Vienna; since 2005, she has been professor at the university of applied arts. Some of her most important works are now documented in this small retrospective volume, includ­ing »The Warburg Room« where the artist has been working since 1995 and for which she continues to collect similar Warburg material on various topics, such as war, the church or superstition. However, the key work is a two-minute video, in which Romana Scheffknecht ­filmed the contents of Warburg Box No. 118 »War and Art 1915/16«. Asked about her method of working, she says: »The really big emotions are produced in the theatre, and that’s the dangerous and most prob­ably bad thing about my work – that it is always shot through with pathos – something that is absolutely prohibited in the visual arts.«