MUNICH – Michael Hirschbichler is a young, Austrian-born artist who heads his own studio – Atelier Hirschbichler – in Zürich. His sublime, dystopian collages have already garnered acclaim at Art Basel in 2012. This month, his latest artistic forays into the world of architectural representation are being shown at Galerie Karin Sachs in Munich.
How did you become an artist and are you engaged with architectural praxis in any way?
I studied architecture and philosophy. It is mainly at the crossroads of these two fields that a lot of my work is situated. My art is different from architecture as it does not propose designs for given situations within a certain system, but reflects on the conditions of these systems and of the spatial typologies and structures. I like to call my method a ‘speculative critical archaeology’: engaging with reality on different levels and revealing its problems and critical aspects by manipulating and subverting it, by juxtaposing and combining fragments that seem unrelated but are nonetheless interconnected.
You incorporate a diverse array of imagery and spatial effects in your work. How do you choose your source images?
The images investigate extreme planned or built spatial situations and ordering structures. Those might be certain typologies as well as spaces that are ideologically charged. I am very interested in examining an existential drama beyond the apparent neutrality and objectivity of the planned and built environment. My special interest also is the moment when rational systems move to an absurd plane and become unfathomable, when utopias turn into dystopias and when striving for efficiency and large-scale proportions leads to inhumane situations.
What is the significance of plans to you?
Whereas the images assume the position of a visual perception of a certain environment from eye level, the plans assume the position of a seemingly neutral overview over the world. I see plans and maps as tools that seem rational, even if they represent a completely irrational and shocking content. The plans form the backbone of my investigation, which is complemented by images, model-sculptures, texts and paintings.