Hunting Kyoto’s Ghosts Through Art — An Interview With Michael Hirschbichler

Amélie Geeraert
Kokoro Media
Published in
14 min read2 days ago

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Michael Hirschbichler is a German-Austrian-Swiss artist and professor at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. His art is situated at the crossroads of architecture, philosophy, and anthropology. Through an artistic investigation of spaces, he explores the relations of humans with their history, their stories, and their future.

In 2019, after visiting and living in numerous countries, he was an artist in residence at Villa Kamogawa for three months, a residency in Kyoto managed by the Goethe-Institut.

Read on to discover Michael’s unusual profile and his art, his studies and art about Kyoto’s ghosts, and what he retains from his stay in Kyoto.

Michael Hirschbichler’s Multi-Faceted Art

Art, for me, is a field where there is freedom to make experiments, and to combine disciplines that would otherwise hardly be allowed to.

You have studied architecture, philosophy, and anthropology. What has led you to the world of art?

Since my childhood days, art has always been the main driving force for me. As a child, I used to paint and make drawings. It is this artistic curiosity that has led me to explore various disciplines. Guided by questions and topics, I never cared too much about the boundaries between them. For example, to me, architecture and art are very close to each other, architecture being just a more spatial form of dealing with similar things.

As a study topic, architecture is a very broad and interesting one. But when it comes to practice, it very often narrows down to buildings — which is understandable, but which I found sort of restrictive in my case. So in my work, I pursue a form of architecture that mostly unfolds beyond building. Philosophy on the other hand opens up a space to ask questions about what we are doing and why. I studied architecture and philosophy at the same time because there are so many overlaps between architectural theory and philosophy and aesthetics. Anthropology came in later when I moved to Papua New Guinea for a year and a half, and it expanded my field of thinking and working considerably. I see a continuum among all these subjects.

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Amélie Geeraert
Kokoro Media

Living in Japan since 2011. I love interviewing inspiring people.