Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Textiles in Museums: Alexandra Bircken

When I went to see Ellsworth Kelly at the Haus der Kunst recently, I took advantage of the „two exhibitions“-price and also went to see an exhibit by young sculptors in the upper floor, called „Strukturales Handeln“ (translates roughly as „Structural Action“). No photos allowed here either, so I am taking two pictures that were published on the homepage of the Haus der Kunst:

Kimberly Sexton, column 4
Kimberley Sexton exhibits plaster casts of space. Sounds unbelievable, but is great to look at. Definitely a must-see.

Michael Beutler, the gardens
And Michael Beutler constructs machines for each individual venue so he can do something in situ. Here he built an „Oberflächenaufknackapparat“ (translates roughly as „Cracker of surface structures“). This machine is left standing around next to its products, the whole back part of the room looks sort of like an unfinished construction site.

My attention was caught mostly by Alexandra Bircken’s works, though. Besides wood, leather, metals, plaster, stone and everyday objects she does also include that rare commodity, „textiles“ in her works.
Funny and clever her version of an instrument for spool knitting. Not a self-made yarn-spool, but constructed from old skis. In German, the little instrument is called Strickliesel, which was   transformed to a “Skiliesel” by Bircken:

Alexandra Bircken, Skiliesel
In other works she frequently includes pieces of fabric, yarn, knitted pieces.

Alexandra Bircken, Gewächs
When I first saw them, I was a bit disappointed. It bothered me that the textile parts are included looked so roughly made, obviously deliberately unaesthetic. “So why do those textiles that get included in modern sculpture have to be ugly?” I asked myself. Then I started searchiing the net about her, as I really did not know much about her before I saw this exhibit, and my frustration diminshed somewhat on seeing the variety of things Bircken has already made. (I also had that encounter with the drummers I wrote about here.)The way Bircken  includes everyday items such as a panty-hose or a skirt (sewn closed shut) still makes it possible for the viewer to have the original associations that come along with these things. You then have to figure out why they were put together like this for yourself. Perhaps if the knitted pieces included in her art were ‘nicely’ made, people would give them fewer thoughts? Beautiful knitting (or any other kind of handiwork) doesn’t qualify as art in real museums...
Here you can see a few more pictures of works by Alexandra Bircken.
And this is a link to another blog-entry which talks about Alexandra Bircken and newer works of hers.
The exhibit in Munich is still on until February 26, 2012. 

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