Thank you so much for the flowers
May 13–November 26, 2017
Luxembourg Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Ca’ del Duca
3052 Corte Del Duca Sforza
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Mike Bourscheid has been selected to represent Luxembourg at the 57th Venice Biennale with the exhibition Thank you so much for the flowers.
With self-effacing playfulness, Mike Bourscheid’s costumes, altered domestic objects, musical pieces and performances recount cryptic stories about gender identification, familial inheritance and cultural history. Always, Bourscheid’s work seeks to transform conservative understandings of art’s role in our daily lives, from our loves to our daily work.
Raised in southern Luxembourg by a seamstress mother and a welder father, Mike Bourscheid often uses performance and sculpture to interweave stereotypes of masculine and feminine labor. Here, the Luxembourg pavilion provides a uniquely hospitable atmosphere for this intimate approach. Each of the pavilion’s five rooms unfolds its own enigmatic narrative. Upon entering the pavilion, viewers will pass through a long corridor lined with birch panels and antique wooden cookie molds—a preface to multiple curious tangles of familial and social custom.
At the end of this passage opens a large room containing The Goldbird Variations (2016), which is emblematic of Bourscheid’s engagement with work, fashion and sexual identity. This handmade yellow costume is constituted of a ruffled skirt and a billowing protuberance, extending from the groin. Although The Goldbird Variations is hung as a sculpture throughout the show’s duration, Bourscheid will repeatedly perform within the costume. Assuming statuesque poses, with hands covered in luxurious gauntlets and feet clad in leather sandals, Bourscheid will be backed by peppy techno music. This scene could be straight off of a haute couture runway. Only Bourscheid doesn’t quite fit the physical profile of a fashion model. And so both he and the work feel slightly, joyfully out of place.
In an adjacent room, walls decorated in potato prints backdrop a pair of costumes titled So stell ich mir die Liebe vor (2015). With enormous pink and silver heads, festooned with handcrafted mustaches and supported by prosthetic apparatuses, these costumes draw viewers into a quasi-theatrical world. While one features pink pants complete with a cartoonish codpiece, the other is frilled, and has the surface of an iridescent fish. The potato prints, seeming the work of a cottage industry wallpaper manufacturer, have in fact been produced by the artist. This detail is important not because Bourscheid fetishizes the artist’s touch, but because the cultivation of such eccentric skills is a way for him to learn about different modalities of labor, through manual involvement.
In this environment, the culturally esteemed activity of artmaking seems to have intermixed with domestic, laborious, and educational rituals. Bourscheid’s method of playing with prescribed cultural and bodily behaviors continues in a series of ornate aprons, made from leather, steel, hair, eggs, ribbon, and musical recorders. When a dining room chair appears, hybridized with a children’s writing desk and a coat hanger, it seems as though an unseen trickster has visited the pavilion, in order to short-circuit the tasks that we habitually ascribe to objects.
Even as the costumes are undoubtedly ritualistic, their power maintains when the artist’s body disappears. Bourscheid’s decision to display the outfits as sculptures illuminates the down time that surrounds performances, before thespian garb merges with performer. This sensitivity to the peripheral moments of artmaking runs through Bourscheid’s work. Embracing absurdity in the most caring way, Thank you so much for the flowers testifies to the fact that art is not defined by objects alone, but by processes and stories through which they move.
We hope you enjoy the show.
Press contact for the Luxembourg Pavilion:
Nadine Clemens, nadine.clemens [at] casino-luxembourg.lu
The official representation of Luxembourg at the 57th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia is financed by the Ministry of Culture, Luxembourg. The coordination of the project is under the auspices of the Casino Luxembourg - Forum d'art contemporain. With the support of Oeuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte, Fonds stART-up.
Thank you so much for the flowers