"Mosaic, a tribute to Aquileia and all people who care about the little things”
— Claudia Reh

The creative work of German artist Claudia Reh from Dresden is distinctly interdisciplinary in nature. The artist herself describes her work as graphics in light, as she works at the junction of drawing/painting, light and performance art. In fact, she has developed a specific technique of Echtzeitlicht (In Real Time), which involves transferring drawings onto the monumental surfaces of building facades, with light serving as the basic building block of her works. Over the past decade, her projections have been featured in numerous exhibitions and festivals across Europe, and we also saw her in Slovenia at the international Lighting Guerilla Festival in Ljubljana (2015). 

In the history of art, light has held great importance because of its symbolic significance: just think of the many luminous objects in painting and its constitutive/decorative role in sacral architecture. In the last century – after the invention of electric light – the use of the light as an art medium has expanded considerably, especially in the new media practices of the 1990s. Today, it is a common medium of expression not only in gallery spaces, but also in urban environments, where artists are mainly exploring the role of light as it relates to public spaces and to the viewer. One such artist is landscape architecture graduate Claudia Reh, who co-creates urban landscapes with her transient light projections: her works cover buildings, courtyards or walls like a second skin.

The artist creates her works strictly in analog technique. The images, which she projects onto large architectural surfaces with powerful graphoscopes, are hand-designed, combining various pre-made visual elements (schematic drawings made on transparencies, photographic images, words/texts) and natural, mostly plant-based materials, which she layers one on top of the other. In fact, the disparate visual elements are only brought together into a coherent whole during the performance itself, which often includes manual brushwork interventions and images floating on the water, made of colored foils. Part of the light compositions is thus fixed, immobile, while the other part of the images is moving, creating unique visual effects on the building facades.

Claudia Reh's light projections are multi-layered, exceptionally vivid and colorful compositions with a wide range of visual images which interweave across the entire surface of the picture field, evoking a sense of horror vacui - fear of the void, paying a great deal of attention to the dancing light and shadows and the interaction between different visual elements, all taking place in real time and space. Compared to digital projections, her creative process is clear and transparent. The aesthetics of analog images also vary. The visual language of the compositions, which (often) thematically relate to specific places/cities and their history, is understandable to the broader audience. As the artist herself explains, she uses metaphors, symbols and signs in her compositions to convey her thoughts and invisible meanings to the audience, which unfold beyond the pictorial surface, on the threshold separating the visible and the invisible.

Claudia Reh created a new light projection during her residency at the R.o.R. residency programme in Šempas, which she presented at the R.o.R. International Festival of Contemporary, Intermedia and Performing Art Practices in Nova Gorica, actively including local audiences. As this is a participatory light installation, she has chosen as her starting point a motion-related theme, however the motion is not linear, but revolving – changing the direction/orientation, which invites a number of different interpretations and links to the artist's personal life as well as the wider community and society in general. Once again, the artist’s own drawings form the core of the projection, with motifs of the intertwining of man and nature, and their peaceful coexistence. The upper, moving layer of the projection is made up of images which circle around on the water surface. Some of these images are the artist's own drawings, while others are created by random visitors. By involving the audience in the process of creating light paintings, the artist not only spreads the spirit of creativity among a wider audience, but also weaves connections with the local population, the coastal region, its local history and identity, which she reinforces in her performance for the closing of her artist residency R.o.R. Her final performance in Šempas is actually also a workshop, where visitors create colorful compositions on the spot.

Claudia Reh's works can be described as vivid visual narratives, based on the stark contrast between the permanent, handmade small-scale visual elements and the transient, luminous images of monumental proportions. They allow the viewer to perceive the drawing/painting and the pictorial surface in a different way, and she thus undoubtedly bring the artworks closer to the wider audience. On the other hand, they encourage reflection on the role that contemporary art – in this case, of course, new media projects whose primary means of expression is light – plays today in the creation of vital public spaces, and how artworks can contribute to improving the quality of the quotidian life.

Nataša Kovšca

Photo: Matej Vidmar

Photo: Jurij Pavlica

Claudia Reh (Echtzeitlicht)

Claudia Reh (Echtzeitlicht) is an artist residing in Germany where she’s finished her studies and been active as an independent artist since the late ’90. Her distinctly interdisciplinary work, always loyal to the principle of the analog, deals with the most diverse issues. She creates installations, animate movies and performances, holds workshops and also works as an organizer and producer. She’s participated with her works in many different exhibitions and festival all across Europe.

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