JÖRN J. BURMESTER
“Birch Man” began with a wearable exoskeleton I made from birch branches for a three-day performative installation/intervention at the Berlin INET conference in April 2012. The conference was hosted by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, and I made the outfit to add a trace of the unsalelable or un-accountable to the conference. Since then, I have worn it in a series of diverse performances. I am still in the process of discovering its specific properties.
While I am critical of performance art that strives to assume or adapt shamanic or magical powers, I am interested and even fascinated by, certain inexplicable properties of specific images, words and objects that defy rational explanation. The “Birch Man” is such an object. While I put it on, which is often part of the performances, I don‘t know or plan in advance what will happen. I don’t move “Birch Man.” He moves me. The actual pattern of events can be visual, like performing simple gestures very slowly or standing still for very long periods of time; sometimes sounds are emitted, chanting or rhythmic patterns emerge, and it is well-suited for performative walks in public spaces.
I have used “Birch Man” in group and solo performances of very different lengths and under different circumstances. All of these explore the specific situation the performance takes part in: space, time, audience, other performers, etc. No two performances involving “Birch Man” are the same.
It is in an ethnological spirit of observation, curiosity and experimentation that I wear the wooden suit of bones.