Door 19: Alexandra Bircken

Photography: Wolfgang Tillmans Courtesy © Galerie Buchholz, Köln, Berlin

That fashion and art have a close relationship is an open secret. Designers seek inspiration in art and artists are drawn to particular designers. Another crossover are the countless collaborations of brands with artists, but there are designers, who leave fashion behind to become artists. Best known from a fashion side is Helmut Lang, but also the German artist Alexandra Bircken started as fashion designer.

Photography © Raimund Zakowski

She was born in 1967 in Cologne and studied fashion design at the infamous Central Saint Martins College in London, graduating with bachelor of arts in 1995. Her graduation collection got quite some interest and so she founded the fashion label FARIDI together with Alexander Faridi, which was sold at stores like Liberty and Browns. From 2002 until 2004 she had a shop and studio in Cologne called ALEX.

Due to her teachings at Central Saint Martins and her work as a freelance designer, she had financial independence and was able to experiment with her work. She described her shift from fashion to art as a gradual process and not as a conscious decision. Fashion was her initiation as, for her, the body is always the starting point. This also why the various human shells like skin and attire are at the core of her work.

Lop Lop, 2019, Courtesy of the artist, BQ, Berlin & Herald St., London, Photography: Sophie Thun

Another key theme of her work is cutting objects to reveal their inner life. She does so with objects like motorcycles or guns. Concerning the latter she that it not only reveals their inner lives, but also deactivates them. Since 2018 also lives and works in Berlin and Munich, at the later she teaches at the Akademie der bildenden Künste München.