Alexandra Bircken

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.

Equally, devices for repetition and layering are often found within the construction of her objects, and the artist’s 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 affinity for industrial and manufactured elements. In this new commission Bircken similarly confronts the competing tendencies of her materials, exposing the complexities between artistic production, labour and the readymade.

The artist’s proposed intervention extends from Bircken’s first solo presentation at Studio Voltaire (2011), in which a large–scale mirrored floor work correspondingly produced a formal and physical reflection of the gallery’s ceiling. Bircken has frequently made use of mirrors and mirroring as a central strategy, and this new commission continues the artist’s meditation on sculptural space, constructing a new and unexpected architecture.

Lead Supporters: Emma & Frederick Goltz and Valeria & Gregorio Napoleone
Supporters: Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen and Henry Moore Foundation

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.