Test Bed 1: Inside-out Cave – Lilli Hartmann

Upper Gallery 1

27 April – 4 June
Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 5pm
On-Site Screenings open to the public

“Give a man fire and he is warm for the day. But set fire to him and he is warm for the rest of his life.”

Terry Pratchett (quote found online)

Lilli Hartmann’s semi auto-biographical film-making is characterised by humour, colour and sheer ingenuity and much of her work has previously been produced from the immediate resources of her own home, now in Madrid. The current TestBed commission opens up a larger space – physical and conceptual – in which to work for a while.

Hartmann has arrived from Spain with a set of images, a laptop and performers engaged. Provided with a large room, table, chairs and a sewing machine, she is sourcing physical material over the subsequent weeks and developing her ideas through drawings, diagrams and the making of objects and costumes. During the fourth week, selected performers – Jiska Morgenthal, Stephan Barette, Nick Brooks, Tom Woolner, Lara Garcia-Reyne and Cecilie Gravesen — who all share an intellectual closeness with the artist, will don costumes and work through a series of exercises she has devised. Together they will develop plot strands and distill the characters that will become protagonists in the commissioned film work, to be exhibited in September 2010. Acapella harmonies will be composed in collaboration with Ramon Móreira.

Attempts to get to the bottom of Lilli Hartmann’s practice can be frustrating: the artist is evasive, the most committed response to be found online is where she defines her practice as “basically trying not to get bored” (more information on the artist is available at: www.lillihartmann.com). An unwillingness to describe the work does not preclude aims, objectives and targets. In this case the process will gravitate around the human need to understand or ‘make sense’ – the process whereby we bring preconceptions and knowledge to any given situation. To unpick the human ordering system is the inspiration, glue and anchor for Inside-out Cave: to squeeze logic, to confuse the boundaries between language and the pictorial and, ultimately, to ask whether things need a meaning in order to make sense.

understanding: noun KNOWLEDGE, noun SYMPATHY, noun AGREEMENT, verb KNOW, verb REALISE.

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.

Image: Inside-Out Cave, 2010, Work in Progress, Lilli Hartmann, TestBed 1 Commission, image courtesy the artist and Beaconsfield (photography Trixie Hartmann)

TestBed 1 is produced as part of Beaconsfield’s curatorial mentoring scheme for emerging artist-curators. Mentees: Dafna Talmor and Joseph Walsh. Beaconsfield is the central London site dedicated to providing a critical space for creative enquiry.

Beaconsfield Commissions 2010