Alexandra Bircken is a sculptor best known for her objects and installations that incorporate an unusual range of materials: from everyday objects such as hair-dye packaging, rocking horses and sawn-up motorcycles, through textiles in handmade and machine-processed form to organic matter such as wood, leather, bones, or even a placenta. Anything that surrounds us can become a sculptural medium. Her approach is characterized by an examination of the human body, its needs, desires, and relationship to its environment.
Bircken has played a significant role in shaping central themes of sculpture since the 2000s. Updating concepts and approaches first explored in Arte Povera and textile art, Birken expands them to include questions of technology, albeit with an analog approach. Highly topical questions such as the need for protection of the individual, gender identity and its ambivalence, and the relationship between humans and machines are taken up and thematized in her sculptures and installations.
This exhibition is the largest solo show of the 1967 Cologne-born artist and brings together works from throughout her practice: from the first sculpture completed in Birckens store-front studio Alex in Cologne in 2003 to installations that she conceived especially for the space at Museum Brandhorst
. Rather than proceeding chronologically, this show uses themes and formal concepts to progress through the artists oeuvre, attempting to capture her sculptural repertoire of forms from AZ: from Birckens exploration of textiles to the relationship of the human body to its environment and to her vibrant and organic-seeming machines.
I am concerned with our immediate environment. The architecture in which we move, as well as the fabrics in which we wrap ourselves. Ultimately, it always comes back to the protection and, at the same time, the vulnerability of our bodies. Our skin is also a shell and at the same time the interface between inside and outside. This is where I start. --Alexandra Bircken
Curator: Dr. Monika Bayer-Wermuth