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Fluidity vs. the solid – artist Alex Chinneck's new installation challenges inflexibility

Alex Chinneck's public installations have been described as urban surrealism, with full-size building facades being made to look as though they've been torn own the middle, or curved to appear as though sliding down to join their neighbouring built context. In his work there seems to be a consistent desire to offer up a point of transformation, whether in use, form, or perception. His latest architectural intervention, titled Birth, death and a midlife crisis, focuses on material transformation – defying the nature of things generally accepted as solid and unbending.

Cover image: Birth, death and a midlife crisis, Alex Chinneck, photography by Charles Emerson

The new exhibition is being shown at the German Museum of Kirchheim Unter Teck, and includes a giant, knotted timber column, as well as wooden broom leaning against the wall, also knotted. Chin neck has also introduced a straight column, in addition to the knotted pillar, to give the intervention symmetry. Both are materially indistinguishable from the historic pillars that they mimic.These knotted exhibits are Chinneck’s first indoor sculptures in five years and follow a succession of outdoor projects that include a 35-metre inverted electricity pylon, a melting house constructed from 7,500 wax bricks, and a hovering stone building for London’s Covent Garden Piazza.

Birth, death and a midlife crisis, Alex Chinneck, photography by Charles Emerson

Speaking about the artwork, Chinneck said, “I like to give fluidity to typically inflexible things, transcending their material nature. The columns are the prominent feature in the 450-year-old museum and this intervention took an opportunity to defy logic and distort history".

"I wanted to create the impression that we had only changed what was already physically present in the museum and the work was born through the manipulation, rather than introduction, of material. With this approach, the objective was to produce something sculpturally bold but contextually sensitive.”

Birth, death and a midlife crisis, Alex Chinneck, photography by Charles Emerson

Chinneck is currently working on the delivery of a new public artwork for the UK. It's titled Onwards & Upwards, and consists of a series of five red brick chimneys with a collective height of 152 metres. The chimneys will border, bridge and illuminate one-mile of canal linking Sheffield and Rotherham. This series of monumental sculptures includes a chimney built from over 20,000 bespoke bricks, and – you guessed it – tied in a knot.


To read more about artist Alex Chinneck and his work visit his website here, and follow his captivating Instagram feed here.


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