Mike Bourscheid at 1646

Artist: Mike Bourscheid

Exhibition title: A Spell in the Alphabet Soup

Venue: 1646, The Hague, The Netherlands

Date: September 1 – October 29, 2023

Photography: Jhoeko / images copyright and courtesy of the artist and 1646, The Hague

Note: Mike Bourscheid in conversation with Jaring Dürst Britt is available here

What processing the past can look like: from clown to cowboy

While many difficulties we experience in adulthood have their root in our family home and childhood, the child in us often is restrained in our rational society. Through use of costumes and props, artist Mike Bourscheid embraces a child’s rich imagination and ways of storytelling, subverting the sometimes difficult experiences that shape us.

The starting point of Bourscheid’s exhibition A Spell in the Alphabet Soup in The Hague’s art space 1646 is the family home and its complexities. In his work, Bourscheid tackles familial issues by using carefully handcrafted costumes, props and prosthetics. These allow Bourscheid to transform his identity and explore characters inspired by his mother, who raised her child as a single parent.

Objects can care for you

In his featured film Agnès, the artist’s nose turns from red to blue to yellow and green, as a silent expression of an ever-changing character. Other body parts that appear in the film, like hands and feet, also possess their own personality. They chat with each other, share their dreams and fears, they help each other and fight like siblings do. Bourscheid’s work blurs the lines between object and subject, revealing the personalities within everyday items. In the installation at 1646, stained glass houses grow medicinal herbs inside of them. Each individual character nurtures and protects their herb. Clowns, talking hands and glass house characters: the artist celebrates a child’s rich imagination and ways of storytelling that often become restricted by rationality later in life. His work gives stage to various personae, blending family anecdotes, fictional narratives, domestic activities, and ideas on masculinity. Through his art, Bourscheid playfully examines and challenges traditional family roles, relationships and patriarchal power structures, ultimately questioning societal norms and conventions.

About Mike Bourscheid

Using various forms of art, Mike Bourscheid tells stories that often have a funny or absurdist twist. With the help of strange and clumsy costumes and props, Bourscheid channels different personalities. With that, he addresses aspects of masculinity, patriarchal power and arrogance while investigating the codes and behaviours of our society and tackling social conventions. Mike Bourscheid represented Luxembourg at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. His recent exhibitions include Richmond Art Gallery (Canada), LIAR NYC (USA) and Heidelberger Kunstverein (Germany). Bourscheid currently has a solo exhibition at Centre national de l’audiovisuel (Luxembourg) as well as upcoming exhibitions at 1646 and Gr_nd (Berlin). He is based in Luxembourg and Vancouver.