Ghostly hooded figures have been haunting different locations in Austria since 2007, scaring children and leaving adults with a pervasive sense of existential dread. The creation of Austrian artist Manfred Kielnhofer, TIME GUARDIANS and LIGHT GUARDS (an illuminated variation of the Time Guardians) are a group of draped figures shaped like the grim reaper. The figures appear to be made of concrete but are actually formed out of hollow treated textiles. They have appeared throughout Austria at indoor and outdoor installations, and Kielnhofer photographs them in front of disparate backgrounds, including modern high-rise buildings and ancient cathedrals, often at night. His first guardians were a bleak gray, but some of the newer figures have bright colors and patterns.
Kielnhofer often installs the guardians abruptly in public places only to remove them the very next day. He has run the Art Park gallery in Linz, Austria, since 2005, and he refuses to comment on his intention with the Time Guardians, leaving interpretations—and spooky feelings—up to the observer.