Through and Through
On Bettina Lüdicke’s Spatial Forms

Birgit Möckel

Although there are no fixed coordinates, there are fixed points: a multitude of tightly wrapped, stabilizing knots add rhythm to a delicate, predominantly transparent structure of copper and bronze wire. This structure combines graphic configurations, fine architectonic structures, or constructions borrowed from nature to create three-dimensional elements. Bettina Lüdicke’s space-defining, airy constellations lithely play with forces of gravity, convey growth and change, and incessantly find new positions both inside and outside.
Pliable metal encompasses individual segments, forming boundaries, opening further zones, and tautening surfaces into linear hatching that resembles shadows and, depending on the viewer’s perspective, suggests stability, protection, and openness. Airy buttresses allow cells or cocoonlike shells to sprout, engaging in extensive interactions with evocative interior and exterior structures that retain elasticity and tactile intuition in every wire. Whether their origin is geometric, organic, or interrelated in cosmic or planetary terms, the individual modules and distances in the overall concept are always interwoven, concentrated, stacked, docked, and interlinked. Sensitive balancing acts are captured in the finished works that tilt, soar, concentrate, roll, or circle—as if they were snapshots—as they gauge gravity. Accumulations of cells that are as round as balls and have pulsing interiors seem to be governed by magnetic powers of universal attraction or to evoke impulses of motion with turbulent vortexes and soaring trajectories that blossom gently in the loose threads of the mobiles.
Sumptuous choreographies are attempted; shadow pictures, intimate plays that are ready to perform, and humorous moments are staged. A small-format, fire-red object that opens itself to the viewer and guides the gaze into its interior exclaims its title: Willkommen (Welcome). Zwischenfall (Accident) seems fraught with consequence due to the interplay between two figures that are distinguished by color. Likewise, when viewing the escalating Vis-à-Vis, it is important to keep an eye on how the perspectives work together, omnipresent and always transparent, no matter how hurricane-like (orkanisch) the individual elements of this artistic universe are circling, folding to freely mirror tectonic shifts, furiously whirling, or softly “breathing” (atmen). Saus und Braus (Living It Up) offers a whole range of possibilities that just have to be rounded up.
When space permits, Lüdicke’s permeable ball formations rise to airy heights like shimmering soap bubbles that steady themselves on the ceiling. In other places the bodies of cells, or Soma, take possession of the walls as increasing stages of development, after having left the sandy islands that were created especially for them and had served as individual foundations in other exhibition situations. In a different location the moment of “taking off” (Abheben) is captured, and the loose ends of a balloonlike object that is filled with nothing but empty space have definitively left the ground. In the logical inversion of this concept, the artist brings a similarly shaped, bright, plump Tropfen (Drop) back to the ground, not only embodying an additional physical state, but also temporarily placing a captured Drop on a green meadow or leaning it against the solid trunk of a pine tree as a feather-light dropped sculpture in the middle of a landscape. Whether set in nature or relating to the architecture of a room, Lüdicke captures spatial constellations in constantly new ways and develops them into visual events that make it possible to experience parts and wholes as universal entities.
Lüdicke’s desire for constant change may have motivated her to place the sculptures outdoors in constantly changing contexts of wind and waves, sun and light, and to repeatedly challenge their own position in the interplay of forces. She documents surprising moments with her camera. Lüdicke’s photographs also make reference to the inner balance and stability of a sculpture; they furthermore open new associative spaces in interaction with nature, throwing light on structural parallels as well as contrasting structures, forces of attraction, and perceptual processes that the natural changes offer.
The influences of nature that result in movement, change, and modification have their indoor counterparts in light- and space-modulating installations in which Lüdicke creates a mesmerizing show of shadows and space, evoking a distant echo of the kinetic light objects by Lázló Moholy-Nagy or subsequent kinetic artists. Nature has surprising parallels to structures that are inherent in art—such as slight gusts of wind, fresh breezes, the inexorable swell of waves, little white crests, reflections, and flowing transitions—and also allows for happy coincidences. In contrast, the light and shadow productions in stagelike interiors are precisely captured; the airy volumes, structures, surfaces, and lines are aptly correlated and can be called up at any time at the push of a button.
Most of the linear sculptures are patinated in matte black, both to protect the copper or bronze and to emphasize the graphic effect of the objects. The three-dimensional compositions take advantage of painterly means of expression in those where individual parts are emphasized with paint, while other series are completely dipped in brilliant red or bright white. Using selected found materials, Lüdicke takes up the techniques of assemblage and collage, not only to bring the worlds of art and the everyday together, but also to extend the consciously dynamic interaction of multiple perspectives into comprehensive experience spaces—including the perception of things that are “absorbed” (einverleibt) by the works. Quite casually, often using recurring found objects, both the material, its handling, and the resulting line formations are presented and transformed with great zest regarding the playful experiment. It is certainly not by chance that the perforated Kopf (Head) of a birdlike figure, which in a way similar to the Baroque technique of repoussoir, guides the viewer’s gaze over the water, evoking an additional sense of the copper wire’s conductivity. Everything is interwoven—including found objects.
In Lüdicke’s works on paper, strictly linear drawings are linked with freely flowing colorful swaths of ink, and the artist activates additional energies on the surface. With precise interventions, selected parts are left bare to set them apart from contrasting orderings, to open a window in the picture, or to fill the resulting space with color. By means of graphic structures and moiré effects, even in this medium there are references to the visual movement impulses of Op Art and Kinetic Art. These are organically enhanced with surprising coloring using bright, transparent swaths of color and bright accents that are put down as if by chance. The colorful veils serve to focus, adding passages in mysterious poetic topologies between daytime and nocturnal light.
From Morgenhimmlisch (Heavenly Morning) to Mondentrio (Trio of Moons), whether on a surface or hanging in space, organically formed or developed from issues of statics and balance, all works by Bettina Lüdicke are open from every perspective, tracing connections that may seem remote: everything reveals a system of energies that is as dynamic as is it is constructive with a lasting life of its own—through and through.

(English version by Dr. Tas Skorupa)