Lique Schoot Sees Herself Differently (2018)
Lique Schoot makes self-portraits in the form of photographs, paintings, objects, films and installations. These works stem from the ‘LS diaries’, the daily photographs she has been making since 2003. In it, her personal identity is subject to a ruthless representation of the self.
The self-portrait is someone else; you are not yourself. It is a good subject for the artist, because it makes us inaccessible. One is not obliged to do anything except be unsparingly honest. This quality characterizes a good self-portrait. A self-portrait can never be flattering if it wants to be valid as a work of art. If it is vain, then it is a recognition that you acknowledge that you are vain. A good self-portrait can not pretend to be better than it is. That’s the way it is.
It is a well-known phenomenon that you are sometimes ashamed of photographs of yourself, as these same images are appreciated by nearby loved ones because they recognize you as you are: your double chin, your crooked nose, your balding crown, your lunar eye, your unwanted hair growth, your spots and your pimples, your flap ear, your neglected teeth, your red skin tormented by sun allergy. A good self-portrait is the result of a self discipline that disregards your concerns about your appearance. You look at yourself as if you have never before seen yourself. At that moment, the self-portrait becomes a form of plastic surgery, when it makes you appear more beautiful than you are, you have to give up in art.
In her work, Lique Schoot (1969) looks daily at herself and her circumstances. She does so with a certain ease, and now has dozens of ways to create an image of her physical form, in particular her face, by photographic means. Simultaneously intimate and distant, she makes the viewer work to reconcile the incongruity. She looks at herself as a neutral object and then puts everything into it, from stupid bewilderment to uncontrolled ecstasy, from factual fixation to miraculous representation. The totality of these daily photographs form a kind of database from which she can draw on further in paintings, sculptures, installations, actions, and other expressions of a coherent body of work that she publishes as ‘LS data’. Making visual analyses of external variables, she provokes an interaction with inner reflections. She scans the surface to gauge the depth. It’s internal research.
Her self-portraits are, as it were, bodies that she subjects to scrupulous observation. As an artist she wants to face what is going on. That means that you do not see Lique Schoot, but yourself. It is as if she is shining with a light in your eyes. In spite of the seemingly sterile form of her work, you experience that sensation almost as an undesirable violation of your familiar surroundings. In fact, she distances herself as much as possible from getting close to the viewer.
Since 2003, Lique Schoot has been making one photo of herself with an analogue 35mm camera at arm’s length every day. She uses film rolls with 36 shots that she has developed and printed by Foto Willemz in the Arnhemse Steenstraat at the end of each month. Day one is negative 1 and she makes – depending on the month – 28, 29, 30, or 31 photos. The last negatives are reversed. With her long arms, it is hardly noticeable that they are selfies. She digitizes the photographs so that she can store – and occasionally edit – them on the computer.
One consequence of daily frequency gives a cinematic form to the body of the work, from which coherent selections can be made as a reflection of what’s happening in the world. She can involve these ‘Moments in Time’ on all kinds of subjects. What do you read into her expression when it comes to photographs that were taken on days when a major disaster occurred anywhere in the world? Personal accidents can also lead to a series of photos, such as when a leg injury led her to record the mottled bruises as one would a colorful landscape.
The daily photos make the endless variety of material life visible. In her work, it comes down to breaking open this closed system. All of these photographs form a root system, from which emerges a sense of who she will be tomorrow, though that can never be made visible. The photos reveal who she was and is, but at the most are a guess of who she will be tomorrow. Her installation ‘Who Am I Tomorrow’ raises expectations that never have to be met. She is herself the model for a picture of who she could be, which she illustrates in a series of photos of her veiled face. It is as if she is already making the mold for her death mask. Part of her work takes the form of mummification, such as the towels she turns around her hair after washing, which she then prepares like a taxidermist as a shroud of nothingness.
When she sells a photo from her daily series, she replaces the image in her archive with an image of the six-digit number of the year, month, and day the original was created. These ‘LS digids’ can be converted into barcodes, hexadecimal color numbers, and search data on the internet that can produce a multitude of outcomes. All kinds of registrations of six-digit data are considered by her to fulfill a function in her work.
Lique Schoot never works randomly. Rather, she works in the tradition of conceptual art, and she strictly contextualises her work. She maintains photographic realism and avoids all gimmickry. From a single practice – the daily picture – a cohesive collection emerges that expands in all sorts of directions and techniques. She makes paintings, installations, films, and objects. She works on location, carrying out projects and commissions. She sees her life as an archaeological excavation wherein all aspects of seeing, recording, creating, and display merit investigation.
With her clinical approach, she realizes a poetic coherence. What she is going to lose is what she wants to undergo in essence. If she paints objects that she no longer uses white and turns them into a mausoleum of lost functions, there is visible evidence for the poetic theorem of K. Schippers:
You do not need things
To be able to see
Things need you
To be seen
Lique Schoot needs us to be seen.
Alex de Vries, Art Historian, Curator – May, 2018