cologne

Alexandra Bircken

Kölnischer Kunstverein

She just really likes handicraft. For many, such a statement would be insulting. But not for Cologne-based artist Alexandra Bircken: She’s proud of her passion for handicraft—for fabrics and wood, knitting and knotting—a much-maligned genre in art. She sometimes even includes the teasing German nickname Bastelliesel (for a person who does a lot of crafts) in the titles of her works. In the tube-shaped exhibition space of the Kölnischer Kunstverein, a long procession of objects clustered, hung, and perched on plinths bore witness to a cheerily humorous take on sculpture that cleverly subverts a wide range of artistic conventions.

Here we see neither a materially and formally “appropriate” approach to sculpture, nor a by-now-familiar combination of craft and readymade in installation, nor yet an adherence to the vocabulary of “women’s work” established by feminist artists of the 1970s. For

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