Bircken reimagines this distinctive structure as a cavernous, upturned ship’s hull. Working with craftsmen to replicate ship building methods, Bircken has constructed 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 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.