1997. Room/Video installation. Art Association Braunschweig.
Whitewashed windows, wall-sized video projection on the front wall, sound. Sculptures of refrigerator / freezer combinations, model mountains, strobe lights

 


A fluttering metal bird in a wall-size projection which falls to the ground over and over again, converted fridges in the chill space - a beer called HeimatLager is on sale.

1997. Room/Video installation. Art Association Braunschweig.
Whitewashed windows, wall-sized video projection on the front wall, sound. Sculptures of refrigerator / freezer combinations, model mountains, strobe lights

 

A weak shimmer of light shines out through the apparently almost completely iced-up windowpanes seemingly promising refuge from the first cold and frosty nights of the year. Whoever enters the exhibition room encounters first three, as if randomly placed chests - disused fridges - which  - as unmistakable details show - have been “disemboweled“ and converted to each reveal a different interior life. A quiet restlessness spreads throughout the room. The noise of gurgling water can be heard coming from the first chest which is closed on all sides. A second smaller chest emits a nervous, flickering strobe light into the room. Looking through the glass bottom one can dimly see a bright red toy dog attached to a tube which is also red: signal lights, an intensive care unit? A sick bed? In the last fridge, which looks like a sarcophagus, a model mountain landscape is nestled in the open insulation material, roughly smeared with rigid foam, the same yellowish-brown material that hardens in seconds and which is usually found in grooves and gaps. Suddenly the flapping of colored wings breaks through the semi-darkness. A toy bird made of metal, hugely enlarged in the video image, flutters erratically, apparently confused, here and there making a self-pitiful, squeaking noise.  As a colorful bird of paradise or mythical phoenix it circles in desperation searching for refuge or shelter.
Christine Biehler called her installation “Heimatlager” - taken from the actual name of an English beer. The title seems as intimate as the term “Heimat“ (homeland) but is not to be found in any dictionary.
The German dictionary Duden contains a multitude of enigmatic collocations and word creations with “Heim” and “Heimat”, which are either quite neutral or given an ideological or idyllic understanding: Heimatkunde(engl: local history), Heimathafen(engl:.home port), Heimatlose(engl: the homeless), Heimatvertriebene (engl: war victims, displaced persons), Heimkehren (engl: homecoming), heimsuchen (engl: haunt, home in on), Heimweh (engl: home sickness) oder Heimtücke (engl: malice). Other associations are awakened with the word “Lager”, mostly in a negative way. It seems that the pleasant, romantic image of “Sich-Lagern” (engl: resting, settling down) in the open air, surrounded by idyllic nature has been forgotten. Automatically one thinks instead of constriction, being squeezed up close together and ends up thinking about emergency shelter, a sick bay, a prison camp and last but not least a concentration camp. The word “Lager” in German apart from in its realistic and material sense has forfeited its neutrality and lost any positive tone.
Considered in this way it means exactly the opposite of home and hearth and a protected environment. In contrast the combination of “Heimat” and “Lager” exists only as the bizarre name of a product from a brewery with a double meaning.
In her work Christine Biehler succeeds in exposing the area of conflict surrounding our longing for warmth and a feeling of security on the one hand and its chasms and clichés on the other. The bird that is looking for its nest, the hiker with his suitcase, the sick dog, the model landscape in miniature form, sanctuaries of the hobby craftsman or of long-forgotten days in playschool. Finally: the fridge as a source of food, a place to store food. Artistically Christine Biehler turns the inside outside, makes processes visible, alienates things, up-ends them, gets to the bottom of them. She sets hard against soft, cold against warm, organic material against synthetic material and she plays with extreme relations between dimensions whereby time and again the existential need for belonging and the desire of every person to find his place in the world is brought to the surface. 

(Justus Jonas-Edel, former director of the Kunstverein Braunschweig)


1997. Room/Video installation. Art Association Braunschweig.
Whitewashed windows, wall-sized video projection on the front wall, sound. Sculptures of refrigerator / freezer combinations, model mountains, strobe lights

 

 

Christine Biehlers "Heimatlager" in der Studiogalerie. Tiefgefrorene Sehnsucht

Es muß kalt gewesen sein, stellen wir uns vor, und einsam und vielleicht graugrüne Dämmerung, als eine junge Künstlerin irgendwo in einem unwirtlichen schottischen Dorf eine Dose "Heimatlager" Bier entdeckte. Die Dose steht jetzt neben anderen in einem Nebenraum der Studiogalerie beim Braunschweiger Kunstverein geschmückt mit winzigen Bäumchen und Bänkchen. Kalt, einsam und dämmrig wirkt auch die Galerie selbst. Christine Biehler - so heißt die Künstlerin - hat sich von der schottischen Dose zu einer Installation inspirieren lassen. Genauer: Vom Namen des Biers, von der für deutsche Ohren einesteils heimelig sehnsuchtsvollen, anderenteils unheimlich zwangbesetzten Aura dieser Wortschöpfung eines ahnungslosen britischen Brauers.Zu sehen sind drei Kühlschränke. In den einen kann man durch ein Gitter hineinschauen wie in einen Käfig. Darin wie auf einer Modelleisenbahn eine gipseme Gebirgsland aber nur in wenigen Flecken noch grün, ansonsten in schmuddeligem Grau. Darauf eine kleine Frauenpuppe mit Koffer. Allein unterwegs in ödem Gestein. Über ihr an der Wand als Videoprojektion ein Spielzeugvogel, der mit kunterbuntem Geflatter und blechernem Geschrei seinen Käfig zu suchen oder zu fliehen scheint.In den zweiten Kühlschrank schaut man durch eine matte Glasscheibe. Die Umrisse eines rosa Spielzeugtierchens sind schemenhaft auszumachen wie Verheißungen einer verlorenen Kuschel Idylle. Der dritte Eisschrank schließlich trutzt wie ein anonymer Wohnblock verschlossen im Raum. Doch heraus klingt Wassergeplätscher.Eine Installation, die mit ihrer kargen Künstlichkeit, in der die scheinbar naturhaften Elemente bloß Artefakte sind, Geborgenheit unerreichbar ist, frösteln macht. Künstlerische Momentaufnahme der Einsamkeit in unwirtlicher Welt. Und trotz der abweisenden Lakonie ist hier eine tiefgefrorene Sehnsucht zu spüren  nach Heimat.

(Martin Jasper, In: Braunschweiger Zeitung, 19.11.1997)