Alexandra Bircken presents a new site–specific sculptural intervention, taking the gallery’s vaulted ceiling as its central formal concern.
Bircken reimagines this distinctive structure as a cavernous, upturned ship’s hull. Working with craftsmen to replicate ship building methods, Bircken will construct three imposing bowed beams. Traversing the gallery space, these beams intersect with the building to create a spiral of arches. Concise and austere, this new work echoes the shell–like carcass of a boat with a deceptively simple gesture that capsizes the architecture of the gallery.
Bircken often locates the material experience of objects in relation to the body. Playing with tensions between interior and exterior forms, this new installation is equally suggestive of corporality: something hollowed, exposed, and skeletal. ‘The body’ is expressed not only within the confines of a sculptural object, but inhabits the wider landscape of the installation.
Bircken has frequently made use of mirroring as a central strategy to explore sculptural space. Devices for repetition and layering are similarly found within the construction of objects, and her use of materials has been broadly discussed in terms of its relationship to craft. However, any fidelity to the ‘handmade’ is tempered by Bircken’s use of industrial and manufactured elements, and in this new commission Bircken similarly confronts the competing tendencies of her materials. Exposing the complexities between artistic production, labour and the readymade, Bircken’s intervention constructs a new and unexpected architecture.
This commission is Bircken’s second exhibition at Studio Voltaire, following her solo presentation in 2011.
About the artist
Alexandra Bircken lives and works in Cologne. Her solo exhibition STRETCH recently toured between Crédac, Ivry, France, Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany (both 2017) and Kunstverein Hannover, Hannover, Germany (2016). Solo exhibitions include Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands; The Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield, UK (both 2014); Kunstverein Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany (2012); Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany (2010) and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2008). Her year–long exhibition Parallelgesellschaften at K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf continues until the 31 March 2018.
Her works are in the collections of Kunstsammlung NRW, Düsseldorf, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam and Frac Normandie Rouen, Sotteville–lès–Rouen. Bircken is represented by Herald St, London and BQ, Berlin.