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Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen presents Alexandra Bircken exhibition

The Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen presents Alexandra Bircken an exhibition on view 22 February–1 June 2014. Bircken’s refreshing take on age-old sculptural tradition, at the same time relating it to the present day, prompted the museum to purchase four of her sculptures in 2010. They can be seen in her largest one-man exhibition to date, which takes an associative, not chronological, approach to her work from 2004 to the present day.

By putting together such disparate elements as branches, stones, wool, hair, tights and found objects, she creates hybrid assemblages which, unlike imposing one-piece sculptures, look ‘unmonumental’ and informal. Bircken combines commonplace objects with more conventional artists’ materials and techniques. She places the original function and value of the components she uses in a new context.

Bircken is trained as a fashion designer at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. Her background shines through in her appreciation of the tactile qualities of materials. Her objects, even the motorcycle leathers that she stretches as if they were cowhides, do not reference their practical value or wearability. Her oeuvre so far can be conceived as series of works that correspond with one another.

Bircken plays with stereotypes—male versus female, artisanal versus mechanical, minimalism as opposed to ornament. She confronts the autonomy of an object with its practical value, yet she relates like a classical sculptor to the bodies and skins of her sculptures. The significance of her oeuvre lies in the radical, open way she subverts these formal and symbolic aspects of sculpture. A prime example of this is Aprilia (2013). Bircken says of the work, ‘The motorcycle is like a horse, the body as machine. When you cut something into pieces and put it back together again there’s always a scar…I want to expose the inside of something, shed light on something that nobody has ever seen.’

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Museumpark 18-20
NL-3015 CX Rotterdam
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–5pm