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Isabell Heimerdinger

The series «Interiors» (1997 – 2000) was created in Los Angeles. There I planned to photograph working filmsets, but could only gain access to films that already existed. Removing the actors from the images through digital retouching first allowed me an unobstructed view of the spaces. The series was completed over a long period of time and composed of three groups. I call the first group «American Psycho»: for this I used films by Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch that exist on a highly psychological plain. In the second group are Japanese films by Ozu, from the 1950s and 1960s; here the spaces are designed altogether differently and very theatrical. The third group, «Italian Horror,» shows spaces used in Dario Argento’s horror movies of the 1970s, and in several of these images the shadows of the removed figures are visible.

The one-and-a-half-hour long film «Terri Watching Gloria Again» (1999) is composed of a single camera shot: one sees the actress Terri Phillips sitting on a sofa and watching «Gloria,» her favorite film by John Cassavetes. Terri’s dream of stardom brings her to L.A. as a young woman. In my video, she gives in again to her wish to becomean actress. At times she recites passages of dialogue or makes gestures. In the end, she cries. Her crying is very important for me, and also for the later works: there being no way of telling if she really cries or whether the crying is a part of her performance. For my next video work, «Alice» (2000), I casted Rudiger Vogler, who watches himself play the young man in Wim Wender’s film «Alice in den Städten». «Alice» was so installed that one saw Vogler in a projection on one side of the space while facing this, at the opposite end, the film «Alice in den Städten» ran simultaneously on a TV screen. The viewer stood in the middle and had to decide which film to watch. Vogler’s reactions were highly minimized; he was aware of my camera and the viewer’s gaze at every moment. At the same time, I also filmed Yella Rottländer, the actress who plays the little girl, Alice. She watches the film with her two sons. What I showed, however, was only a photograph that captures the family in the moment when the sons and their mother recognize themselves on the screen. A third video, «I was Andy Warhol’s Dracula,» uses the same principle. It shows Udo Kier viewing his first feature-length film, a production by Paul Morrissey (1974). His performance was ingenious: he gave all of himself in the film and learned his monologue for the next day of shooting at the same time; he ordered the least nourishing breakfast imaginable, flirted with the cameraman, and, on seeing his youthful face again, was overcome with sentimentality. All of this made it rather interesting to watch him. The video work «The space between us fills my hear with intolerable grief and impossible joy» (2002) was made with Martin Glade, a young actor from Berlin. For my production, he cried before the running camera for a half hour and, in conclusion, laughed for a half hour. The two videos were shown side by side. He found it hard sustaining such intense emotions for so long. Sometimes his laughter was almost crying, or the reverse. Also completed at this time was the photo-series «Martin as» (2002), a remake of a work by Douglas Huebler, from the 1970s, in collaboration with Bernd Becher. Martin interprets the same characters conceived by Huebler. Accompanying this series an artist’s book was also produced. «Waiting, Acting Waiting» (2002) is a 16mm film made during a stay in Vienna, with the actor Wolfram Berger. Wolfram Berger was instructed to playan actor waiting for the first day of shooting to begin. While he waits, the camera and lights are positioned. But we began filming him while he waited for our shoot to start. So the film shows a genuine waiting and an acted waiting. Both parts are shown one after the other. «Pose» (2003) is an ongoing serial work consisting of series of Polaroid shots. One by one, I photograph the people who visit us in the apartment. This begins with photographing a certain pose and then asking that the previous pose be imitated for the subsequent shots. Each series differs in length, ranging from 20 to 30 Polaroids. To varying degrees, the poses change as well. «Two Films» is my second 16mm film after «Waiting, Acting Waiting». It is also made of two parts, and shows the actress Bibiana Beglau drinking a cup of coffee. In the first part, she simulates the act of drinking coffee with an empty cup; later she imitates what she had done with the empty cup, using a full cup of coffee this time. The difference is astoundingly slight. The film was presented at an exhibition in Paris together with a slide show of 33 slides, showing the hands of a man striking a match 33 times. The superimposing of these images creates a totally new movement, as though the hands move with the flame across the screen. An almost narrative, poetic plain evolves between the two works. The photo-series «A Day in the Life» (2004) was also made in collaboration with Martin Glade. In fifteen images, the course of his day is shown as though a documentary film. Here, too, there is no way of telling how authentic or genuine this glimpse into a private sphere really is; Glade being an actor, he can perform it that way. The series was photographed by the Berlin photographer Nina Lüth. For my third 16mm film, «Love Film» (2004), Bibiana Beglau improvises a love scene with the actor Thomas Huber. It was important to me that they didn’t know each other personally. And so, on the one side, two professional actors react to one another; on the other, two people meet for the first time and lie naked in bed together. This invariably creates a real intimacy. My only stipulation was that, following the lovemaking, they speak to each other for three minutes. Their dialog is improvised as well. The film feels light and natural, which pleases me. It also has English subtitles. Alongside «Love Film,» I would like to shoot two other films: a meeting and a separation. Perhaps with the same actors.

© Media Art Net 2004