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Michael Hirschbichler works on the threshold of architecture, art and anthropology. Moving between research and its speculative transformation and employing a wide range of media, he explores how cultural, social, political, religious and scientific narratives, mythologies and ideologies materialize and shape the spaces we live in. Michael Hirschbichler taught at ETH Zurich and HSLU Lucerne and directed the Architecture Program at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology. He is the recipient of the prestigious Rome Prize by the German Academy Villa Massimo and the Hans Hollein Fellowship by the Federal Government of Austria, and was awarded residencies at YARAT Contemporary Art Space in Baku, Cité internationale des arts in Paris, Villa Kamogawa (Goethe Institut) in Kyoto and SACO (Goethe Institut and Institut Français) in Antofagasta. Michael’s work has been exhibited internationally in venues such as Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Yarat Contemporary Art Space Baku, BINZ39 Foundation Zurich, artQ13 Rome, House of Architecture Graz, Martin Gropius Bau Berlin and Helmhaus Zurich. His book “Mythical Constructions” is forthcoming with Wasmuth & Zohlen Verlag Berlin.
In his lecture “Architectural Monsters” Michael Hirschbichler undertakes a close analysis of the traditional cult and spirit houses of Papua New Guinea. Thereby he elaborates their underlying sociocultural concepts – above all that of cultic architecture as a monstruous incarnation and what that means for the formation of human and nonhuman persons and social communities and their relationship to the environment. This investigation is placed in a more general contemporary context, and potential ways of engagement in the ongoing Anthropocene (or “Kaiaimunucene”) are sketched out. In this way Hirschbichler opens up new perspectives on traditional architecture and its crucial monstruous role, envisioning – as he calls it – a “Kaiaimunutecture”.
Cult house in Yentschamangua village, photo by Friedrich Fülleborn, 1913