The Drawers - Stephan Bircher   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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Seeing a Stephan Bircher sculpture in the dark, the thrill of creepiness in the passing blur of bones and feathers arrests the distracted progress from A to B. Immediacy reigns over distraction and the moment is realised. Interest sparked, a closer inspection courses with exclamations of amazement, horror, delight, repulsion, fascination and an overriding glee at having been aware enough to notice. There is a privileged singularity when first confronting a Stephan Bircher sculpture, a sense of luck, of having been in the right place at the right time and because of the compounded destiny, of being rewarded with a sensation. How is it that these strange, often macabre sculptures have been placed in the path of city dwellers? Simple they're the product of a rough savvy coupling between the primal urge to create from the discards of life and technological acumen. They're modern voodoo dolls, contemporary shamanism and theatrical twists of genius from an artist who sees the world as his oyster and plucks his pearls with a pop.

Keith Richards, younger and ravished, could have held a candle to Bircher's dynamic physicality. As narrow as his boney creatures, he appears to be a cross between a gypsy and a rockstar. His figurines are equally hip and stylish, half naked and streamlined. Star wears a pair of speckled harem show pants made of crab parts. His studio is like a science lab. There are tables with trays of arranged bones, boxes of bird feather's, butterfly wings, beehives and dead insects, shelves of clear plastic drawers with electrical components, rusted machine parts in piles, jewels, junk and things without reference to a nave eye. The caldron in the corner set upon a wood stove looks like it is straight from a production of Macbeth. He freezes road kill that friends and neighbours give to him and then removes the flesh once it has partially thawed.

There is the haunting feeling that he is perhaps a wizard and the studio with the background whir of boney creatures on trapezes or being winched from up to down and back again, is on a stage.

The dancing-death imagery, lit as if on the stage of life far after it's allotted term, brings Bircher's expertise to bear on a world over which he has total control, from the writing of the script, to the set design, costuming, lighting and grand finale of the amazing macabre moment of fame.

Copyright 2007,  Julie Oakes