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Press Release

For the 2019 edition of Art Basel Unlimited, Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich, together with Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, are pleased to present an installation by Monica Bonvicini entitled Breathing. The work was developed and first shown at Bonvicini’s solo exhibition entitled 3612,54 M³ VS 0,05 M³ at the Berlinische Galerie in Berlin from September 2017 to February 2018. 

With the installation Breathing, Monica Bonvicini, who is known for her large-scale installations dealing with issues of gender, power and architecture, addresses issues of inclusion and barriers, subjugation and freedom. The work resonates with today’s geopolitical anxieties, cross-border tensions and the movement of people and labor, touching upon prevailing and troublesome issues in an ever-increasingly globalized world. Political architecture in both physical and conceptual appearances is also explored through this work. 

The kinetic installation Breathing consists of a "broom/whip" made out of leather belts and acrylic material attached to a pneumatic system suspended from the ceiling. The title of the work refers to the movement of cylinders that pump air from art storages, which in turn moves the brush in a programmed 9-minute cycle, making it wipe or hit the floor and adjacent walls. The installation and its composition of movements orchestrate directions that the visitors are obliged to take in order to avoid and bypass it. The brushing movement can be seen as a metaphor for cleaning, dealing with the debris left after the failure of the modernist project. 

The artist makes reference to Tristan Tzara’s invitation of the Dada Manifesto in 1918: “We must sweep and clean. Affirm the cleanliness of the individual after the state of madness.” 

Could the automated and seemingly unpredictable movements of the broom sweep away populist opinions, discriminatory policies and derogatory rule, the leftovers of the neoliberal state? The installation can be seen as Bonvicini’s complex and perspicacious response to the current sway of today’s politics of paranoia.

Monica Bonvicini’s multifaceted practice explores the relationship between architecture and gender, power, space and language, in addition to the tension between public and private spaces. Her often large-scale installation works combine a confrontational and performative gesture with which she attracts the viewer’s attention, not only exploring questions concerning institutional critique with her distinct interventions into the exhibition space but also through material and architectural contexts. Her works can be found in numerous museum collections as well as in public outdoor spaces such as London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, on the fjord adjacent to the Oslo Opera House, and in the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. She has occupied a professorship at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna, since 2003, and has given workshops and held teaching positions at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, and the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. In 2017, she assumed the professorship for sculpture at the Universität der Künste Berlin.