Entering Georgina Starr’s I, Cave, is a little like entering the world of Doctor Who (if the Doctor were part archaeologist, part detective, part allegorist, part (re)collector, part rag-picker, part child and wholly female). You are not alone: a woman sits at a desk typing. She is dressed in bright colours and other similar clothing hangs nearby. There might be more than one of her. This is Enter the Brain (2015). Behind her, a grey spot-lit curtain could open to reveal – what? Is a film about to start? She approaches a record player and begins to play, Mum Sings Hello (2009). It is Starr’s own mother singing into an answer-phone, one of ‘The Mothers’ linked to the motif central to the artist’s practice, the sphere or bubble. I try to stop thinking about the worst hangover I ever had, when Lionel Richie seemed to be lodged in my head for days. Perhaps it’s the proximity of Le Cerveau (2012), a distorted brain of chewed bubble gum that makes me remember.
The Emperor Moth cocoons of The Lepidopterist’s Case (2015) have to wait, as it is hard to ignore The Tunnel (2015) a structure that looks like slices through a cave in a B-movie. Peering through the opening, it is possible to see how I, Cave unfolds into works such as the large digital prints of women Splitzing (2013) and a mirrored table with a fragile paper figure, The Dancer (Static Steps) (1992). Moving onwards is the video, The Birth of Sculpture (2015). Here, women move on and around two sculptural forms. They blow bubbles, do headstands, observe, and are observed, and it is possible to imagine a choreographed response, as the structures stand empty in the exhibition space.
The interconnected works of I, Cave are multi-layered and need to be explored repeatedly in order to come close to their ‘mythomaniac’ qualities. They are obviously highly idiosyncratic and yet speak of being a woman, of being human. Their birth, in the tracings made in a Tanzanian cave two decades ago, is whistled in the recording of Yesterday (1991) playing in the atrium and filling the building with time-travelling echoes.
Georgina Starr’s I, Cave continues at Mima until 28 May 2015
Annie O’Donnell is an artist based on Teesside.
Image courtesy the artist and Mima.