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Lili Fischer – Test Flight of the Crane Flies

since 14 September 2008

In the stairwell of the old museum building

Lili Fischer has been studying crane flies since 2005, magnifying these bizarre insects into large-scale objects and exploring them in drawings and other works on paper. Now, for the first time, the artist is presenting the results of these studies at the Hamburger Kunsthalle. Fischer, who participated in documenta 8 and is a professor at the Kunstakademie in Münster, has developed an impressive installation especially for the stairwell of the old museum building: the space is now occupied by more than ten large crane fly objects and numerous works on paper. The installation also includes a “crane fly simulator”, which visitors have the chance to try out for themselves at specific times. At the exhibition opening, Lili Fischer presented the simulator in the context of a performance, demonstrating the crane flies’ development and the relation between their proportions and their wing and leg movements to accompanying music. Drawings, calculations and preparatory sketches presented in display cases complete the installation and elucidate Lili Fischer’s lively approach to field research.

Lili Fischer adopted this artistic approach to field study in the early 1970s, applying empirical research methods commonly used in the realms of sociology and ethnology, amongst others, to art. Through a process of meticulous observation and collection, ordering and structuring, she reveals the often hidden traits of the objects under investigation and explores their history and contexts. The scope of her research ranges from everyday themes like household rituals to natural phenomena such as medicinal plants or insects. A central aspect of her work is the idea of bringing to life or ‘animating’ the objects or creatures and their environment. In Test Flight of the Crane Flies, the stairwell of the old museum building ispopulatedby these shimmering, almost dancing objects. Reference is made here to the mystical view of nature in the Romantic period and the belief in the animation of nature by the inclusion of Philipp Otto Runge’s painting Die Lehrstunde der Nachtigall (The Lesson of the Nightingale). With this unusual installation, which occupies and transforms the stairwell of the old building in the Hamburger Kunsthalle both architecturally and in terms of content, Lili Fischer sensitises the viewer with respect to a creative, unadulterated approach to nature.

Presentation of a DVD at the closing event on 16 November 2008 at 11 a.m.

To accompany the exhibition, a DVD entitled Die Werkgruppe Schnaken (approx. 30 mins) has been produced, and will be released along with a booklet.

The exhibition and DVD are supported by the Kunstpreis der Schleswig-Holsteinischen Wirtschaft 2008 and the Philipp Otto Runge Stiftung.

Curators of the exhibition: Dr. Petra Roettig and Dr. des. Dorothee Gerkens.

More information



Lili Fischer · Schnake · 2006

Lili Fischer
Schnake, 2006


„Schnaken-Installation im Altbautreppenhaus“


Lili Fischer
Schnakengeist, 2008


CD Testflug der Schnaken

Photos: Lili Fischer





Lili Fischer bei Ihrer Performance zur Ausstellungseröffnung in der Hamburger Kunsthalle 14.09.2008
Photos: Dirk Dunkelberg


Am 5. April, 3. Mai und 7. Juni finden jeweils um 16 Uhr Testflüge für Freiwillige mit Lili Fischer in der Installation »Testflug der Schnaken« statt.
Kein zusätzlicher Eintritt.