Selected works by Björn Dahlem

Björn Dahlem
The Milky Way


Wood, neon lamp, bottle of milk

Dimensions variable
Björn Dahlem makes room-sized sculptures that represent abstract concepts of space and matter. His creations are based not on stability, but on fragility which he sees as the defining condition of human knowledge. His low-tech wood and light assemblages allude to cosmic theories and philosophy, re-imagining the ways the universe is understood in startlingly simplified terms.
The material properties of wood and its ubiquitous availability make it a constant in Dahlem’s sculptural repertoire. “Wood allows me very immediate access to my ideas, because what I’m trying to do is to stay as close to the idea and the immaterial image of the imagination.” In some sculptures, wood is paired with light, a symbol of the immaterial and of enlightenment.
Björn Dahlem
Homunculus Samurai (Sinn Ninja)


Mixed media

180 x 60 x 60 cm
The Milky Way (2007) is a sprawling web of wood and neon tubes illustrating its title subject, but without pretending to be to scale, useful or even correct. The work hinges on the immediacy of easily recognised forms and symbols (lumber, lights, a jar of milk), which Dahlem has transformed into what he calls a “thought model” or “mental habitat”: “When I work on the sculptures I always try to be like a child… [thinking, for example,] today I’m going to build the cosmos with orbits of planets.”
Björn Dahlem
Schwarzes Loch (M-Sphären) (and 4 details)


Wood, lamps, light bulbs and neon lamps

540 x 730 x 360 cm

Schwarzes Loch (M-Sphären) (Black Hole (M-Spheres), 2007) is part of a series of hovering constructions composed of wooden polyhedron shapes to which incandescent and fluorescent lights have been attached. At its core is a smaller, black polyhedron, a disarming version of the real thing, a black hole – popular scientific knowledge turned into a mysterious, self-defined new.

Björn Dahlem


Wood, lightbulbs, glacier cherries, red wine, varnish

191 x 60 x 60 cms

Cathedral (2008), a towering wooden assemblage fixed around a teetering pile of jars of glacier cherries, is a made-up model of a parallel reality, rife with an absurd, incomprehensible instability.

Other Resources
Additional information and images - Björn Dahlem
Modern and contemporary art and artists – Björn Dahlem
Various and images - Björn Dahlem
Representing gallery, London - Björn Dahlem
Bjorn Dahlem is not a zany madman, but he does a good job of playing one. With the skills of an inept handyman, Mr. Dahlem, a young German sculptor, has cobbled out of raw lumber, packing tape and ordinary electric lights a sprawling, hovering model of what he calls a ''galactic supercluster.'' Suspended in the main gallery are great wobbly ovals made by joining lengths of wood end to end, with glowing fluorescent lights attached. The ovals encircle a crystalline polyhedron studded with round light bulbs, and within that is a pyramidal frame, painted silver. And at the very center of this celestial matrix is a symbol of the life force: a hot dog, preserved in a bottle of clear liquid.
Berlin-based artist Björn Dahlem creates imaginary models of the cosmos and illustrates abstract principles of astrophysics using discarded materials such as untreated lumber, industrial neon light tubes, dustbusters, or carpet remnants. At turns earnest and wryly humorous, these constructions subvert the viewer's expectations of precise scientific models and question the mythological and narrative qualities of scientific theories as they develop within popular culture.
Representing gallery, information on past exhibitions and additional images
Information about the artist including past exhibitions and press releases
In his installations bearing such titles as “Im Homunculus”,” Solaris”, “Schwarzes Loch” or “Utopia Planitia”, Björn Dahlem attempts nothing less than to give form to the non-representable. His conglomerations of roof boarding, carpet remainders, Styrofoam and neon lights do not conceal their components and cohere into frightening, madly proliferating material-assemblages which thrust themselves into the exhibition space as a combination of trial arrangement and temporary structure. Dahlem transfers scientific models into the sphere of art or draws inspiration for his works from philosophy.