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Alexandra Bircken: a World Between Toy Story and Sigmund Freud
22 February 2014 – 1 June 2014
In February 2014 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen will host a solo exhibition by the German artist Alexandra Bircken (Cologne, 1967). This presentation is an associative selection of her work from her debut as an artist in 2004 until the present day. Approximately forty works will be displayed, ranging in materials from ceramics to textiles and a motorbike that has been cut open to reveal innards that resemble dissected intestines. In addition to existing work, Bircken is making new works specially for the exhibition.
Bircken creates sculptures by combining all kinds of everyday materials. She uses twigs, stone, wool, nylon stockings and found objects to make objects that match sturdiness with dynamism. She sets up new relationships between these materials, redefining their function and value, implicitly referring to the beauty of the everyday. The Süddeutsche Zeitung described her solo exhibition at the Hamburger Kunstverein (2012) a ‘theatre of objects’: Bircken creates a new value system for banal materials and everyday objects, and creates a world somewhere between Toy Story and Joseph Beuys.
Bircken’s innovative approach to age-old sculptural traditions combined with a relation to contemporary concerns was an important reason for the museum to acquire four of her sculptures in 2010. The museum’s director, Sjarel Ex, says about these acquisitions: ‘I can’t keep my eyes off them … Robust and floating, with their feet on the ground but moving upwards.’ The museum had continued to follow her development over the past few years. From February 2014 the four acquisitions will be shown in a broader context.
Unmonumental and informal
Bircken’s work relates to that of John Bock, Sarah Lucas and Abraham Cruzvillegas, with whom she exhibited at the New Museum in New York in 2007 under the title Unmonumental. This group exhibition showed that various contemporary artists work with fragmented forms and with everyday materials and objects. By combining many different elements, they create contemporary assemblages which, unlike imposing sculptures made from a single material, have an unmonumental and informal appearance.
Bircken studied fashion at Central St Martins College of Art and Design in London and worked for several years as a fashion designer. By chance she established her studio in Cologne next to Galerie BQ, which later moved to Berlin. After seeing several of her less functional designs, BQ offered Bircken a solo exhibition in 2004. Since then Bircken has worked as a visual artist. She has exhibited at the Kunstverein in Hamburg and Bonn (2012), Studio Voltaire, London (2011), Ursula Blickle Stiftung, Kraichtal (2008) and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (2008).
The exhibition ‘Alexandra Bircken’ is made possible by the support of the Goethe Institute.
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