b. 1965, Venice, Italy
Lives and works in Berlin
Best known for large-scale sculptural installations that employ different materials and mediums, Monica Bonvicini incorporates elements of architecture, performance, photography, video, painting, and collage in her work. Using dry and direct humor, she confronts issues of subjectivity, power, barriers, control, and institutional critique. Bonvicini’s art establishes a critical connection within the space where it is exhibited, the materials that define it, and the roles of spectator and creator.
Bonvinci was born in Venice, Italy in 1965 and currently lives and works in Berlin. She holds degrees from the Hochschule der Künste, Berlin (now known as the Universität der Künste) and from the California Institute of the Arts.
Since 2003, she has held a position as Professor for Performative Arts and Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Notably, Bonvinci’s work has been featured in many prominent biennials, including the Berlin Biennale (1998; 2003; 2014); La TriennaIe, Paris (2012); the Istanbul Biennale (2017; 2003), and the Venice Biennale (1999; 2001; 2005; 2011; 2015). She has had solo exhibitions at Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna, Austria (2019); Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, Germany (2017); Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK (2016/17); Kunsthalle Mainz, Germany (2013); Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Germany (2012); Centro de Arte Contemporaneo de Malága, Spain (2011); the Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel (2011); Art Institute of Chicago, IL (2009); Modern Art Oxford, UK (2003); and Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2002). Bonvicini also received the Golden Lion at the 48th Venice Biennale (1999) and she was appointed Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 2012.
All images © Monica Bonvicini.
Since the mid-1990s Monica Bonvicini has been exploring political, social, and institutional situations and their impact on society, as well as on the conditions of artistic production. Her work is direct, merciless, political, and not without a dry sense of humor. In the process, she focuses on the relationship between architecture, gender roles, control mechanisms, and devices of power. Bonvicini has a multimedia approach, using drawing, sculpture, installation, video, and photography. For the Belvedere 21—originally the Austrian pavilion at the World’s Fair in Brussels in 1958—she has developed a site-specific and space-consuming installation that reacts radically to Karl Schwanzer’s architecture. As such, it reflects male-dominated power structures, which are expressed just as much in the constructed space as in art history, politics and language.
Monica Bonvicini and Pope.L are included in Foundation for Contemporary Art's sixteenth benefit exhibition, "Adam McEwen Selects: Exhibition to Benefit the Foundation for Contemporary Arts," on view November 29 through December 15 at Gladstone Gallery. All proceeds benefit FCA, the non-for-profit organization founded in 1963 by Jasper Johns and John Cage.
Mitchell-Innes & Nash congratulates Atelier Aziz Alqatami of artist collective GCC and Monica Bonvicini on their inclusion in the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale. The pavilion calls into question hetero-normative considerations of architectural space.
Featuring work by thirty-six global artists, Women House challenges conventional ideas about gender and the domestic space. The exhibition is inspired by the landmark project Womanhouse, developed in 1972 by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro. With works that disrupted traditional ideas about the home as a feminine realm, Womanhouse was the first female-centered art installation to appear in the Western world. In the new exhibition, Women House, women artists from the 1960s to today examine the persistence of stereotypes about the house as a feminine space.
Women House was organized by Monnaie de Paris, where it was exhibited from October 20, 2017 throuh January 28, 2018.
Conceived for the large exhibition hall of the Berlinische Galerie Museum of Modern Art, Bonvicini's installation amongst other things investigates the term facade and its function. The show runs parallel to the 15th Istanbul Biennale in which the artist is also participating and features elements from both cities - Berlin and Istanbul.
Women House is the meeting of two notions: a gender - the female - and a space - the domestic one. Architecture and public space have been masculine while the domestic space was for a long time the prison or the shelter of women: this historical evidence is nevertheless not a fatality and the exhibition Women House shows this.
This year the Atlantic Lecture looks beyond our national boundary across the ocean. Monica Bonvicini is an Italian artist who lives and works in Berlin and teaches sculpture and performance at the Akedemie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna. She is one of the most acclaimed artists to emerge from the mid-1990s. Her multi-faceted practice, which investigates the relationship between architecture, power, gender, space, surveillance, and control, is translated into works that question the meaning of making art, the ambiguity of language, and the limits and possibilities attached to the ideal of freedom.
Sotheby’s Institute of Art – Los Angeles, in conjunction with Claremont Graduate University’s Department of Art and its Atlantic Lecture Series, presents an evening with renowned artist Monica Bonvicini, in conversation with Jonathan T. D. Neil, Director of Sotheby’s Institute of Art – Los Angeles.
From September 16 – November 12, the 15th Istanbul Biennial—which is curated by Elmgreen & Dragset and is centered around the concept of “a good neighbor”—will be staged across six venues in the heart of the Turkish city.
Details about the highly-anticipated exhibition have been released periodically over the past year, initially making waves in April 2016 when the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset was selected as the 2017 curators. Their appointment was a notable first for the Biennial, which had previously never seen artists moonlight in a curatorial role.
Mitchell-Innes & Nash is pleased to announce that Monica Bonvicini will be the subject of a major one-person survey at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK. Using sculpture, installation, video, photography, text and performance, Bonvicini's work ranges from the intimate to the architectural in scale, questioning some of the often hidden forces that shape identity. The exhibition, titled her hand around the room, will present an overview of Bonvicini's work from throughout her career alongside specially comissioned new works.
Mitchell-Innes & Nash is pleased to annouce representation of Monica Bonvicini.
Monica Bonvicini: I was a student at the Berlin University of the Arts in the West when the Berlin Wall fell. That night, I went with some fellow students to Brandenburger Tor, where I stayed all night long. At some point I went home but I could not sleep so I went back out on my bike. From the western districts of Wilmersdorf through Tiergarten, everything was crowded with people—it was maybe Berlin’s first Love Parade.
The relationship between architecture and patriarchal systems, and how the shaping of public space has been impacted as a consequence, has long been at the core of Monica Bonvicini’s work. Curated by Nicola Ricciardi and Samuele Piazza, ‘As Walls Keep Shifting’ comprises a plain wooden prefab structure simulating a typical Italian villetta (semi-detached house) furnished with works by the artist.
The sound of Bonvicini’s Breathing is not the sound of breath, but it beckons viewers to the kinetic installation all the same. Above the din of Unlimited’s crowd, an overhead array of pistons whirr and snap like the jaws of some iron dragon. What they control is a hydra of black-leather, silver-buckled “men’s belts” (as they have been described in past installations) sent swinging, clinking, and slashing across the space in irregular patterns. Simultaneously playful and threatening, the work converts what could be read as a symbol of toxic masculinity—husbands and fathers have too often used belts as makeshift bullwhips for domestic abuse—into a tongue-in-cheek totem of feminist power: the witch’s broom.
Though there is an immediacy in film that feels particularly poignant at this time, the show’s significance is not dependent on our culture’s heightened awareness. The ideas these videos consider are neither new nor are they temporary. They remain critical to examine decade after decade.
The exhibition was opened on the occasion of the Berlin Art Week in September 2017, and it is on view through February 26, 2018. The title of the show relates to the volume of the museum space occupied by the exhibition in relation to the volume of the artist’s body. Bonvicini, who is known for re-examining minimalism, conceptual art and institutional critique, took the gallery room as the first reference, and conceived the entire exhibition as an appropriation of the institution and its museological processes, commenting on the themes that she found outside its white cube—inclusion and barriers, subjugation and freedom.
Monica Bonvicini’s new exhibition at the Berlinische Galerie is an aural invasion. From most parts of the museum, the jangling buckles and leather tails of a 33-foot-long whip, titled Breathing, can be heard hitting the floor and walls. Along with the incessant slamming of a metal door, Bonvicini has crafted a jarring soundscape to house the rest of the museum’s collection of modern art from Berlin.
Monica Bonvicini’s homage to Louise Bourgeois will be some of the surprises among many others
For her solo presentation at the Berlinische Galerie, Monica Bonvicini has produced a site-specific installation to be staged in the museum’s large exhibition hall—a move that is a hallmark of her decades-long practice, which often focuses on the institutional viewing space. Because the Berlin exhibition runs in tandem with the 15th Istanbul Biennale, in which Bonvicini is also participating, the show is influenced by both Berlin and Istanbul, and is said to feature elements of each major city.
Since the 1990s, Bonvicini’s works have circled around the world of construction. Industrial materials, tools, and construction site supplies have been used and transformed into large installations or sculptures. She reveals the close connections between architecture and public spaces, the world of labor, gender and sexuality, as well as control, politics, power and representation. In Bonvicini’s eyes, buildings as well as urban and suburban infrastructure are by no means neutral, but on the contrary obsessive, politically ideological, and sexualized.
For this exhibition, the Italian-born, Berlin-based artist Monica Bonvicini bisected Mitchell-Innes & Nash's main space with a temporary wall supported by two small, dildolike "sculptures" in Murano glass resting on the floor. The installation, Structural Psychodrama #2 (2017), succinctly encapsulated the central theme of her work over the last twenty years: the imbrication of sex and architecture through relationships between the body and its shelters, barriers, props, and frames. As Bonvicini put it in a 2004 interview, "You have something under your belt and something over your head. And you need both."
RE pleasure RUN” is Bonvicini’s first New York exhibition in 10 years. Fittingly, it could be thought of as a kind of mini-survey, bringing together all the predominant strains of the Italian-born, Berlin-based artist’s varied practice—namely wall-based installations, light and leather sculptures, found photo collages, works on paper, paints, and glass dildos. Over the course of her 30-year career, Bonvicini has explored through these projects issues around identity, structures of power, and the limits of language. And she has done so with her signature mixture of provocation, innuendo, and wit. The resulting message, if there is one, is often ambiguous.
The aggressively enigmatic works of the Italian artist suggest a lot and explain little, beyond dropped hints of erotic and political discontent. Walls are shimmed up on small glass-phallus sculptures. Clustered men’s belts assume a testicular shape. Fragmented syllables in white neon, on an aluminum rack, instruct “No more masturbation,” but they don’t say why. In a grainy photographic mural, workmen do something incomprehensible to a grimy brick wall. Scores of white L.E.D. tubes hang horizontally in tangles of wire. What’s it all about? Your call.
Over on 25th street, Monica Bonvicini’s solo show at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, RE pleasure RUN, conflates erections with erection—construction—of architectural elements, including walls, in an S&M-tinted play on gender roles, production and displays of power and gratification. Mitchell-Innes & Nash is also showing at the Independent Art Fair, with work by Pope.L.
The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, UK has announced that the four winners of its inaugural 2017 award are Jose Dávila, Eric N. Mack, Toni Schmale, and Shen Xin. Selected individually by Monica Bonvicini, Mike Nelson, Pedro Cabrita Reis, and Lorna Simpson, the four emerging artists will each be given a 13-week exhibition at the BALTIC (to open on June 30, 2017), £25,000 ($30,665) to create new works, and a £5,000 ($6,133) artist fee.
Bonvicini addresses power dynamics, effective communication, and even the structure of the gallery itself in this new show. Central to the exhibition is Structural Psychodramas #2 (2017), a large-scale installation of temporary walls that questions the architecture of art institutions. Neon text works, one of which reads “NO MORE MASTURBATION,” offer a cheeky commentary on the role of desire in the present moment.
It’s been ten years since Monica Bonvicini had a show in New York. This week, she’ll return with “RE pleasure RUN,” her first solo show with Mitchell-Innes & Nash.
Berlin-based, Italian conceptual artist Monica Bonvicini gets her first New York solo show in a decade. Her debut at the gallery centers on Structural Psychodramas #2, an installation of small Murano glass sculptures, as well as two of the artist’s monumental disaster paintings and large-scale, provocative neon works, one of which reads “NO MORE MASTURBATION.”
There’s something undeniably seductive about Monica Bonvicini’s work. Whether it’s a neon sculpture or painting of a burned-out building, her (usually monochromatic) pieces have a vaguely S&M quality and wouldn’t look out of place in the background of a high-fashion editorial photoshoot. But beyond looking good, they’re subtly loaded with content. Bonvicini speaks to structures, both literally (as in the architectural sense) and figuratively (as in those of power).
Monica Bonvicini was born in the 60s in Venice and finished her studies at California Insitute of Arts and in Berlin in 1992. Her work since–dipping between installation, sculpture, video and drawing–has been influenced by architecture, exploring both public and private spaces, and is often noted to have sprung from the sex clubs that the artist found herself frequenting during the 90s.
In this interview with the art historian Alexander Alberro excerpted from Phaidon’s Monica Bonvicini, Bonvicini sheds light on her famously brash use of materials, the liberating nature of BDSM clubs, and how the personal is always political, even when we least expect it.
An exhibition of provocative, large-scale installations by Monica Bonvicini is on display at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead through February 26, 2017.
Italian artist Monica Bonvicini's practice has focused on two rather unusual themes: walls and sex. An extensive survey of the Berlin-based artist's work at Baltic Contemporary in Gateshead combines the two.
Fierce, mordant and confrontational, Monica Bonvicini aims to annoy at every turn in this bracing first UK survey.
Between the power drills, leather tassels and saucy builders’ humour, Italian artist Monica Bonvicini lets sadomasochism hang heavy in the air. But the audience frustratingly ends up neither master nor slave.
The Berlin-based artist has built her practice around interrogating the notion of identity through art, as her expansive new exhibition at the Baltic demonstrates.
Fetishism, Freud and transparent toilets - a brief guide to this great Italian artist’s work.