Burning Memory employs the metaphor of a housefire to investigate the psychological spaces of cinema. The series examines temporal effects in film, such as montage sequences as well as the intensity of cinematic screen lighting. Theatrical lighting frames the oil paintings so that they appear to be emitting light. These paintings also inhabit the time-based nature of cinematic imagery and of time itself, while the housefire offers a structure the stages of destruction and emotional intensity.
A small black and white video installed in the gallery entrance introduces the burning house in montage of historical events and as a cathartic cinematic image. These include documentary footage of fires in Australia (Ash Wednesday) and sequences of burning houses in from movies such as Rebecca, Gilbert Grape, and Badlands.
Wall of Fire
Extracts from exhibition essay by Natasha Bullock
Burning Memory plays with the history and nature of cinematic experience. Using spatial and temporal dynamics and drawing upon the loaded symbolism of a burning house, Lily Hibberd reconstructs the psychological space(s) of cinema. The exhibition consists of fourteen paintings and a video that reveal different aspects of a house on fire.
The video establishes the tone of the viewing experience. Sliced together are generic burning houses presented in black and white format, sourced from documentary footage and film. This structure cleverly mirrors the processes of spectatorship involved in Hibberd’s exhibition, for as viewers we too approach the work (fire), enter the blackened environment of the interior space and are drawn into the drama of the paintings.
The interior exhibition area is a reconstruction of a cinema space: dark and immersive. Bright, bold and seductive the paintings enfold the viewer in a drama of colour and content. Hibberd employs cinematic devices such as scale, perspective and focus to control the response of the spectator.
Burning Memory eloquently showcases the ability of the painting medium to engage as cinema does in the evocation of a psychological space. The spectator is literally confronted by a wall of fire.
The complete essay “Wall of Fire" by Natasha Bullock is available here to download in the Burning Memory exhibition guide.
Burning Memory was presented in two solo projects, first at TBC.Inc. Melbourne in 2001, and then at Imperial Slacks, Sydney, in 2002. The work was also included in the group exhibition Mnemotech curated by Bec Dean at Perth Institute for Contemporary Arts in 2002.