Arbeitsjournal | Edna Baud



Austere modernist and industrial spaces. Among them there are figures—most of the time only partially visible, carrying out some uncertain tasks. We rarely get to see their faces, emotionless, covered by their hands, hat brim, or helmet edge.

Edna Baud composes her paintings out of film scenes and photos from her private archive. There are no real anecdotes behind them, yet still, as in Cindy Sherman’s ‘Untitled Film Stills’, it’s hard not to get an impression that we know those scenes from somewhere. Raw realist images, painted in greyscale, pale green and purple tones, are composed in tight frames as if combing the film and stylized poster aesthetic. Figures rarely blend into the background, more often they are separated from it by a distinct outline. Their clothes, meticulously draped, are almost architectural, dissolving the boundary between scenery and costume. The space is based on flat planes as in a theater stage. Pictures broken down into separate elements prompt us to sharpen our eyes. Alienating effect strips away the illusion—we critically examine the images instead of allowing them to enchant or deceive us. Edna’s works follow the logic of montage, uncovering a whimsical and untamed stream of thought and associations.

‘To know, it is necessary to take position’, wrote Georges Didi-Huberman in ‘The Eye of History: When Images Take Positions’. Edna Baud’s works trigger that exact process—we take positions on them based on juxtaposed elements, our knowledge, afterimages of associations, apparent and repressed memories. We suspect what we’re seeing, even though the images contain scrappy information. The artist is not telling us a story, she allows us to reflect upon the way we tend to add our own stories to images. The way we interpret them is determined by subtle things—a hand gesture, delicate muscle tension, the way in which a braid or a knife is clutched in fingers. What makes us attribute certain intentions or gender identity to figures which we see only in small fragments? The artist is not admonishing us, she’s not giving any straight answers either. Instead, she provokes us to confront our own, intuitively taken positions.