Thomas Hirschhorn was born in 1957 in Bern, Switzerland. He used common materials often seen as garbage to create his art installation.
Originally trained as a graphic designer, Thomas Hirschhorn shapes public discourse that relates to political discontent, and offers alternative models for thinking and being. Believing that every person has an innate understanding of art, Hirschhorn resists exclusionary and elitist aesthetic criteria—for example, quality—in favor of dynamic principles of energy and coexistence.
He creates sprawling installations from mundane materials (packing tape, cardboard, foil) that engage the senses. Using collage as a form of interpretation and critique, Hirschhorn presents intellectual history and philosophical theory much as he does everyday objects and images, and poses questions about aesthetic value, moral responsibility, political agency, consumerism, and media spectacle.
He has produced a series of monuments to great philosophers—Spinoza, Bataille, Deleuze, Gramsci—that while physically ephemeral are intended to live on in the collective memory of those who have experienced them. In the process of creating such work, Hirschhorn has enlisted individuals living near the monument sites, paying them to assist him (though not to collaborate, per se, in the artwork). “To me,” he says, “it seems much more honest to say coexistence than collaboration.”
Thomas Hirschhorn makes installations that advance pointed critiques of the global military-industrial complex. The over-abundance of ideas and images in Hirschhorn’s installations mimics the media saturation of contemporary life and highlights the desensitization that consumers experience as a result.