Friday, 21 November 2014, 24:00 | midnight

#59: Isabell Heimerdinger

Heimerdinger’s central theme is the penetration of the cinematographic world and everyday reality, in which she concerns herself primarily with the figure of the actor for some years now. In photographic as well as cinematic testing setups, she plumbs the depths of the partly subtle differences between acted and authentic behavior, between role and identity, between posing and ‹genuine› expression. In doing so, she meanwhile uses strictly analog technologies again, such as slides, Polaroid photography, and 16mm film.

Shot over the course of three years, Heimerdinger’s Beijing Trilogy captures the visually rich and emotionally complex essence of China’s capital city:

In Good Friends, 2011, 4:30 min, a minimalist performance is played out by two dinner guests in the middle of a busy family restaurant. The decorative setting provides a lavish background to the film’s simple but surprising plot.

Blind Date, 2012, 6:11 min, draws the viewer deep into a traditional quarter of Beijing. A young woman is on her way to meet a stranger. As she wanders through the streets, the camera scans every detail as if seen through her eyes. Over the telephone, her date pretends to be almost there. Night is falling when her phone rings again. This time, his voice drifts into melancholic memories. His images of the past contrast the pictures of the present. He is faraway.

In Mr. Xu, 2012, 15:37 min, however, we watch an ordinary man perform his daily routine at home with his family. After lunch, he gets himself ready to leave. During his journey across town, the mood of the film gradually changes. With Mr. Xu eventually surprising us with a second life (a scripted one), the film presents itself as multifacetd as its protagonist: conceptual trick or escapade of a lucky man?

The second part of the screening combines the artist’s first narrative short film Detour, 2007, 11:00 min, with her most recent one, Giorgio, 2014, 13:00 min. Both films share the blue skies and warm air of the Mediterranean. In Detour, a young hitchhiker heading for Nice gets a lift with a pleasant local. During a short detour to “Cézanne’s mountain”, the young woman’s reveries collide with the driver’s attraction to her youth. Giorgio revolves around a young girl feeling lonely and bored during her holiday. Filmed on an Italian island, the film focuses on Holly and her encounters with Giorgio, a younger boy, that comes and goes like a daydream. Using mostly improvisation, the only spoken word within the film makes up the title of this turbulent and open ended story.


Isabell Heimerdinger (b. 1963 in Stuttgart, Germany) lives and works in Berlin and Rome. 1991 graduated from the Master Class at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf; 1995 MFA at California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles, USA.