Alexandra Bircken has developed a unique sculptural language: natural and synthetic materials are knitted, knotted or strung together. Her work is grounded in a deep connection with and understanding of the materials used.
Her practice is informed by a background in fashion, which she studied in London at St Martins College. The acquired techniques of draping, knitting and threading create a particular formal approach. Alexandra Bircken has described her constructions as ‘units’ that work with internal tensions and dialogues between materials, a wider conversation occurs between these units and the particularities of the space.
Bircken’s sculptures take many forms. Previously, she has created web-like structures that appear to have caught both detritus and treasures, objects are suspended as if in mid-air. Materials range from mannequin limbs and tree trunks to washing lines and netting. Bircken thinks the body through her use of tampons, human hair and wax. This interest in material and narrative places Bircken in relation to artists such as Joseph Beuys and Eva Hesse. Her strange placements are not only informed by aesthetic qualities, Bircken is also interested in the potency or power of the individual elements. Like wishing trees or dream catchers, the objects are at once organic and ritualistic; like distorted talismans, they border the spiritual. More recent works have used a somewhat restricted language – materials have been reduced to metal, mirror and mortar. The New York critic Roberta Smith recently described Bircken as “a rather belated challenge to Post-Minimalist sculptors”.
Supported by The Henry Moore Foundation. With kind assistance from Yana Peel and Herald St, London.
Alexandra Bircken currently lives and works in Cologne and has had solo exhibitions at Kimmerich Gallery, New York (2011); Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (2o1o); Stedelijk Museum CS in Amsterdam (2008) and Gladstone Gallery in New York (2007), with forthcoming solo presentations at Kunstverein Hamburg, Hamberg and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (both 2012). She has participated in numerous group exhibitions including Kettles Yard, Cambridge (201o), Barbican Art Gallery, London (2008), New Museum, New York (2007) and White Columns, New York (2005). The artist is represented by Herald St, London, BQ, Berlin and Kimmerich Gallery, New York.
Alexandra Bircken, 2011. Installation View, Studio Voltaire, London. Courtesy of the artist, BQ, Berlin, Herald St, London, and Kimmerich, New York. Credit Andy Keate.