Bircken is known for her sculptures and installations, for which she draws on an unusually wide range of found materials. The human body is almost always the focus of her work, with its complex states and conditions, how it is covered and protected, and its variety of desires.
The Doctor exemplifies many of these characteristic qualities of Alexandra Bircken’s art. Its constituent materials include a surgical gown (a souvenir of the artist’s own treatment for a knee injury), a section from a discarded Christmas tree (set into a prosthetic joint), and a bisected wooden toy boat as its ‘head’, a form which seen in profile becomes redolent both of a scalpel blade and a plague mask. The smiley-face pattern on the gown from a hospital in Berlin extends across the whole body – skin and cloth have become one, the patient as an object as opposed to an individual.
Image: Alexandra Bircken, The Doctor, 2020. Image courtesy Contemporary Art Society.