Image immersion: Birgit Hein

Image immersion: Birgit Hein

Porträt of Birgit Hein

We immerse ourselves in the images of Birgit Hein – and in the world of one of the most important film artists of the post-war period. The artistic career of this experimental film-maker, who grew up in Duisburg and died in 2023, began in Cologne, the city whose subculture she shaped as co-founder of X-SCREEN. We are honouring her artistic development: from her early beginnings with structural film-making, through her own personal cinematic emancipation, and back to the beginnings, the archetypal images of a childhood during the Second World War: the search for images of destruction and destroyed images. Image immersion – this means a sensual, spatial and pictorial film experience that was only possible in this way by radically rethinking the technical and artistic possibilities of analogue film.

The structural film of the 1970s, with its formalist aspirations, strict ideology and linear modernist historiography, represented a rigid intellectual corset that allowed for sophisticated mental acrobatics but was nevertheless deeply patriarchal. Birgit and Wilhelm’s departure from structural film in 1978, their performances, the films Love Stinks and Verbotene Bilder, and finally Birgit’s own films Die Unheimlichen Frauen and Baby, I Will Make you Sweat are blows for freedom: they are painful and powerful and defy any kind of categorisation. Her war films of the 2000s represent attempts to come to terms with her early childhood traumas. Perhaps it is these very special interweavings of lifelines, psychological junctures and artistic transmutations that also make Birgit Hein a universal figure of the German post-war generation.


Followed by a conversation between Birgit Hein Maxa Zoller, Artistic Director IFFF Dortmund+Köln and Prof. Matthias Müller, filmmaker

Matthias Müller is one of the most influential experimental filmmakers and film artists of his generation. Müller’s films and installations are represented at international exhibitions and festivals. He studied with Birgit Hein at the Braunschweig University of Fine Arts.

Maxa Zoller first met Birgit Hein in 2002 as part of her research into the exhibition history of experimental film. When becoming director at IFFF Dortmund+Köln she had planned an event with and about Birgit Hein, which was delayed by the pandemic. Later, this was no longer possible due t Birgit Hein’s death on February 23, 2023.


In cooperation with Köln im Film

Follow-up event on 12 June 2024 in cooperation with the ifs at Filmforum NRW


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