b.1967, Cologne, Germany
Lives and works in Cologne
Björn Schülke is a sculptor who playfully transforms live spatial energy into active responses. Slow, deliberate movements in his sculptures consider mass and weight of form, while the strong physical presence of each is anchored in the formal vocabulary of modern abstraction. His constructions delight, disrupt, and disorient the viewers’ expectation, staging an unpredictable behavioral exchange between the audience and the machine.
Portraying an animist worldview, Schülke’s work is characterized by its lively interior consciousness. Revealed through a complex cycle of communication and movement, each object possesses irrational character traits or distinctive emotional features. Using solar panels, infrared surveillance, and air propulsion to trigger movement or sound, the immediate surroundings of Schülke’s sculptures become sites of observation and intervention. His “creatures” are suspicious, vulnerable subjects that are awakened by motion sensors as the viewer approaches. Psychically charged, these automated works are fantastical, inheriting an odd performative humor from Valie Export, one of Schülke’s mentors at the Academy of Media Art, Cologne. Evoking the tools of modern observation and precision, his work suggests artificial intelligence as well as absurdity.
Recent exhibitions of his work include Boghossian Foundation – Villa Empain, Brussels; National Art Musem, Beijing; Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul; Telfair Museum of Arts, Savannah; Museum Villa Rot, Burgrieden; KulturBahnhof, Kassel; Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid; Verbeke Foundation, Stekene; Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Berlin; and the Biennale of Electronic Arts, Perth. Collected privately throughout Europe, the United States, and Australia, Schülke’s work has also been acquired by Bank of America, The Progressive Collection; Borusan Collection at Perili Köşk Museum; 21C Museum and Hotel; Sharjah Art Museum; Sculpture Museum Glaskasten; Neiman Marcus Collection; Jülich Research Centre; and the City of San Jose.