ELISA R. LINN / LENNART WOLFF Two recurring elements in your work are motorcycles and leather protection gear, the latter occasionally cut in half or hung on walls like hunting trophies. You also ride the motorbike yourself, right? Could you tell us more about your interest in the machines, the technical clothing and why it has reappeared many times in your work?
ALEXANDRA BIRCKEN I ride motorbikes myself and I like the all-encompassing physical aspect of it. You are simultaneously dealing with physical activity, balance, wind, speed, temperature, noise, smells and the surrounding traffic at a very direct, body-conscious level. It’s a very alert, concentrated state under the helmet. Accidents hurt, as there is no crumble zone. The engine is right between your legs; you feel the heat rising up, and you are aware of the power below you, which can be lethal if you cannot control it. Motorcycles are fascinating, highly powerful objects.
The protective leather suit is an armor, a second skin. It is the skin of another creature. When riding I become very aware of where the body ends. Skin is the body’s largest organ, full of nerve endings. It is the surface that the outside world sees, how we are recognized. We aim to protect our skin. Our state of happiness and health is marked or even written into our skin. As Michel Serres said, nothing is as deep as skin. The skin is the interface between where our body ends and the outside begins.