Alexandra Wolkowicz

The skin of the city

I came to Lichtenberg to find out what it’s like to live in Berlin after moving abroad years ago. Born and raised in Germany, I haven’t lived here for more than half of my life and have only visited Berlin once. In Lichtenberg, I tried out an old identity and a new one at the same time, strangely familiar and yet unfamiliar. I thought about the tension of being myself and belonging at the same time. I wondered where the sense of connectedness or strangeness came from.

I have explored these themes through my work with textiles and have used different techniques to lift images from surfaces. In this case, I decided to work with frottage in the district, using graphite to rub down different surfaces.

I was looking for places that seemed to be in a process of transformation. Spaces that I could claim for myself, albeit briefly, as they were not fully defined in terms of function. I was drawn to places where I saw a point of contact between natural chaos and cultivation. Place that could be as small as cracks in the pavement with plants pushing through. Or places where large settlements hid behind locked gates.

I also selected textiles with material properties that reminded me of skin and chose a colour palette to match. Then I went in search of the right places. Once I had collected the first skins, I brought them back to the studio and transformed them into new beings. My works ‘Hide’ and ‘Cover’ explore ideas of assimilation. By layering and arranging materials, hiding or exposing parts of a fabric, I created structures that I could display. By extending and exposing them, I am simultaneously investigating an external site and myself in relation to it. I thus reference the camouflage of the body and drapery in classical sculpture to bring out the complexity and shifting ideas inherent in the process.

May, 2022