Skip to content

MONICA BONVICINI: LOVER'S MATERIAL AT KUNSTHALLE BIELEFELD

Mitchell-Innes & Nash (New York), in collaboration with Peter Kilchmann (Zurich), König Galerie (Berlin) and Galerie Krinzinger (Vienna), is pleased to announce a simultaneous online exhibition of works by Monica Bonvicini to be featured on each of the four galleries’ respective websites. 

The four concurrent online presentations will showcase different groupings of work from Bonvicini’s current solo exhibition at Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Lover’s Material (which is on view through February 21, 2021). The exhibition’s title is taken from Franz Schulze’s biography on the architect Philip Johnson, who designed the Kunsthalle’s building in 1968 and whose relationship with Jon Stroup, a longtime companion, is described therein as “unfailingly affectionate, comfortably passive, and forever appreciative of his lover’s material generosity.”

Bonvicini’s work often directly addresses the spaces in which they are displayed and her decision to reference the asymmetric relationship of the building’s celebrated architect with his lesser-known lover underscores the exhibition’s focus on the ways in which discrepancies in power are manifested through language, architecture and mass media. As exemplified in the works shown below, there is, in Bonvicini’s practice, an emphasis on exposing the impossibility of neutral space; of neutral language.

The space of the museum – especially one designed by a famous architect – actively subordinates its occupants as well as the contents therein to a predetermined context and value system. But, as Bonvicini shows, language is also a kind of biased architectural space – a syntactical construction that often frames its speaker by gender, race and class. Bonvicini’s work attempts to disrupt these constructions through both literal and visual means. Walls are broken, sightlines obscured or brought into glaring focus, and language is made, in the artist's words, "to tremble."

MITCHELL-INNES & NASH  |  PETER KILCHMANN  |  KOENIG  |  KRINZINGER

DOWNLOAD CHECKLIST | Please email Kevin Choe for inquiries.

Module 1

"The question about power relationships is in the end a question about what freedom might be." 

Monica Bonvicini

wall works

MONICA BONVICINI

Installation view of Lover's Material at Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany, 2020

power joy humor

MONICA BONVICINI

And Resistance (2020)

Spray paint on Fabriano paper, mounted on aluminum

78 3/4 by 59 1/16 in.  200 by 150 cm.

(MI&N 16782)

The above installation view shows a series of works, known collectively as Lover's Material, executed in spray paint and tempera on archival paper. Despite the prominently featured text of some of the panels, the paintings on paper verge on the abstract with unrecognizable yet vaguely familiar geometrical patterns, such as the grid motif that recalls industrial wire mesh fencing. The stencilled text-based panels, rendered with pink or coral tempera in a serif font, are featured alongside monotone paintings on paper of loosely positioned chains, depicted stationary or in a swaying motion. In combining spray paint and tempera in this series, Bonvicini juxtaposes two different painting techniques and their cultural associations. Tempera is often aligned with works from the classical period, especially religious paintings. Spray paint, conversely, is an industrial medium, often associated with manufacturing or street art and graffiti.  

The paintings create a nebulous landscape of black, dark grey and pink, from which the mesh, chains and text lines appear. In contrast to the indefinite background, the text strikes startlingly real and present. While the bright colors make them stand out visually, the stenciled bold letters bring up associations with common uses of such font style: commercial signage, warnings and private property designations. Political banners that express messages of disapproval or public demands for change also bear stenciled letters. The conceptual ties to political protest are also supported by the portrait format of the paintings.

femme

MONICA BONVICINI

Me Fem (2020)

Spray paint on Fabriano paper, mounted on aluminum

29 1/2 by 19 11/16 in.  75 by 50 cm.

(MI&N 16783)

Writing holds an important place in Bonvicini’s practice, whose many larger-scale works are based on popular phrases, song lyrics or, as in this instance, quotes. The text in Lover’s Material comes from several sources, most notably Roland Barthes's A Lover's Discourse. One can also find quotes and fragments from works by Judith Butler, Natalie Diaz, Soraya Chemaly, Andrea Dworkin as well as the memoirs of Philip Johnson. These writings formed the basis of the artist's research material in preparation for the present exhibition at Kunsthalle Bielefeld. After finding the appropriate passages to be reproduced in the paintings, Bonvicini would alter them by changing or reversing the word order or cutting them down to barely recognizable utterances. Yet, in doing so, the quotes take on a new, poetic dimension: “Weep Me Crude,” “Power Joy Humor & Resistance,” “I Never Tire.” The textual component of the work collects and relays a specific ‘dictionary,’ a set of connotations that the viewer can comprehend and to which she may relate. It touches upon the ambiguities of a (romantic) relationship, especially those that originate from and exist within socially defined and politically installed norms and roles.

ekel

MONICA BONVICINI

Installation view of Lover's Material at Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany, 2020

L: Ekel (2020), pigment print, mounted on Alu-Dibond, edition of 3 plus 1 AP / 75 15/16 by 47 1/4 by 1 1/6 in.  193 by 120 by 3 cm. (MI&N 16788)

R: Grab Them by the Balls #1 (2020), bronze, open edition / 2 15/16 by 10 by 5 1/2 in.  7.5 by 25.5 by 14 cm. (MI&N 16790)

repulsion

Film still from Repulsion, directed by Roman Polanski

(Compton Films, 1965)

The above black-and-white print, titled Ekel, (at left) features 19 film stills from the horror movie Repulsion, directed by Roman Polanski in 1965, which have been photomechanically modified. It shows a sequence of stills in which the main character Carol, played by Catherine Deneuve, becomes the victim of her worst nightmares when left alone in her holiday home. She hallucinates about unwanted sexual advances from men and the repulsion these actions evoke in her.  

Through subtle alterations in the composition of the stills as well as the addition of hands in various gestures, sizes and transparency, Ekel transforms the psychological inner life of the character ad absurdum. It reflects on normative understandings of femininity, the male gaze as well as the theme of sexual abuse, which is intimated in the film as the cause of the character’s neurosis.

in my hand

MONICA BONVICINI

In My Hand (2019)

Murano glass and metal buckle

5 7/8 by 13 3/4 by 9 7/8 in.  15 by 35 by 25 cm.

(MI&N 16502)

The above work, titled Grab Them by the Balls, references the infamous statements made by the man who currently holds the highest office in the United States government. Despite the seriousness of the subject and the aggression implied by its title, the work is tinged with humor – an important component of Bonvicini’s practice. French philosopher Henri Bergson once noted humor as a kind of coping mechanism for unexpected situations. Approaching one of these works in the exhibition, a visitor may laugh with nervous energy upon reading the title and realizing that the work is installed at groin level. But it’s a subversive kind of humor that seeks to paradoxically anaesthetize but also bring into focus our rage and shock.

This work also makes subtle reference to the source material for Ekel, which as previously noted is composed of 19 film stills from Roman Polanski’s aptly named 1965 film Repulsion. In one of the scenes, the main character Carol hallucinates being grabbed by hands that emerge from the walls of a hallway.

Little Liar

MONICA BONVICINI

Little Liar (2020)

UV gel print on Vlies wallpaper, edition of 3 plus 1 AP

151 5/8 by 184 5/8 in.  385 by 469 cm.

(MI&N 16786)

 

etant donne

MARCEL DUCHAMP

Étant donnés: 1. La chute d’eau, 2. Le gaz d’éclairage (Given: 1. The Waterfall, 2. The Illuminating Gas) (1946-66)

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris / Succession Marcel Duchamp

Little Liar is a gel print of an earlier spray paint drawing that was exclusively produced for the debut record of the emerging Berlin-based pop band La Stampa in 2011. The print features a montage of a spacious interior with a large divan, wooden table and colorful flowers. This bourgeois setting is juxtaposed by the jarring presence of a dirty foot in the middle of the print. A background covered with black spray paint and negatives of heavy steel chains create a heart-shaped framing device that brings to mind an aperture or peep hole not unlike Marcel Duchamp's infamous Etant donnés (1946-66) at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Although the music does not refer to this imagery per se, it transforms its acoustic qualities into a visual language that simultaneously creates and destroys tensions to create something new.

Marlborough

MONICA BONVICINI

Marlboro Man (2019)

Digital print on aluminum, ed. 1/3 plus 2 AP

157 1/2 by 244 1/8 in.  400 by 620 cm.

(MI&N 16787)

marlboro man

MONICA BONVICINI

Eternmale (2000)

Collage on paper

24 3/8 by 32 3/4 by 1 15/16 in.  62 by 82 by 5 cm.

(MI&N 13877)

The above installation, titled Marlboro Man, comprises an aluminum wall bearing a print of a cowboy figure, similar to the iconic advertisements for Marlboro cigarettes known as the Marlboro Man. Before governments started to ban the tobacco advertising and promotion, the Marlboro Man was publicly perceived as a prototypical male figure in the United States, integrating various stereotypes as part of a larger marketing strategy that sought to associate smoking with manliness, agency and potency. In Monica Bonvicini’s installation, the Marlboro man rides straight toward the viewer but the blurred quality of the metallic landscape creates ghostly reflections that endow the figure with a phantom aura; an apparition from the past which continues to haunt the present.

In appropriating the image of the Marlboro Man, perhaps one of the most successful advertising campaigns, Bonvicini addresses the prevailing gender disparities that exist in both art history and the cultural domain in general within society. The work also hints at the parallels between art objects and commercial products in the contemporary marketplace of culture, where the relatively closed circuits of the industry often lack or abjure the means for self-assessment and auto-critique.

Marlboro MoMA

MONICA BONVICINI

Untitled (Marlboro Man) (2000)

Cut-and-pasted printed paper with synthetic polymer paint and cut-and-pasted colored paper with felt-tip pen on cut-and-pasted paper in artist's frame

Collection Museum of Modern Art, New York (The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection Gift)

© 2020 Monica Bonvicini / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Germany

carpet

MONICA BONVICINI

Breach of Decor (2020)

Linked textile print, ed. 5/5 plus 2 AP

283 1/2 by 377 15/16 in.  720 by 960 cm.

(MI&N 16789)

the beauty you offer

VALIE EXPORT (with Peter Hassman)

Action Pants: Genital Panic (1969)

Screenprints

Collection Museum of Modern Art, New York (The Modern Women's Fund)

© 2020 VALIE EXPORT / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VBK, Austria.

Presented lying on the floor, the above work, titled Breach of Decor, is a colorful carpet that visitors are invited to walk on. Composed of multiple panels and quilt-like in construction, the individual parts reproduce birds-eye view photographs of trousers on different types of flooring (tiles, wooden floor, other carpets). The artist took the photographs herself over the course of almost two years both at home and at various hotels during her travels. In each of the photographs, a pair of pants (most often jeans) is captured, usually shown inside-out. The mechanically-woven carpet reproduces the photographs in clear detail and renders the pants in an almost sculptural, three-dimensional style. 

Bonvicini was interested in the loaded history and performativity of pants, namely its associations with strict binary gender roles and how they were, up until the second half of the 19th century, viewed as exclusively "male" clothing. Trousers were coded with symbolic value in feminist movements, representing the struggle to attain equal footing between the sexes. In contemporary art, one of the most notable examples of the use of pants as a political symbol can be found in Valie Export's performance piece Aktionshose: Genitalpanik [Action Pants: Genital Panic] (1969), wherein the artist, while carrying a machine gun, dons a leather jacket and crotchless pants to go to the cinema. She is "dressed to kill," targeting the rules of decency and acceptable behavior applied to womanhood by society, especially those promulgated by popular culture and the mainstream film industry. Valie Export's performance not only reflects the violence and aggression necessary to upturn societal conventions but also reveals the latent processes of sexualization and eroticism at play in a simple garment.

Bonvicini’s Breach of Decor likewise comments on this subtle intimacy but the work also highlights the boundaries between public and private space that is represented by an image of casually strewn pants. The gesture of taking one’s pants off is strongly linked to the feeling of being at home, of feeling safe in a domestic environment. Arranged one next to the other in a grid, the photos assemble a visual diary of coming back, of entering and of transitioning from outside to inside. It refers to various physical habits that we develop to accommodate space, as well as daily rituals that structure our environment to certain psychological binaries: mine and theirs, inside and outside, foreign and domestic. As visitors are invited to step on the carpet and wander, they are offered glimpses into someone’s private space, but they also find themselves standing in the same position of the pants’ owner and are thus confronted with their own preconceptions of intimacy and exposure. 

Module 3

MONICA BONVICINI

bio

Monica Bonvicini. Photo: Lena Ganssmann.

 

 


ARTIST WEBPAGE | ARTIST CV

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.

Bonvicini 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, Bonvicini has held a position as Professor for Performative Arts and Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. And, as of October 2017, she assumed the professorship for sculpture at the Universität der Künste, Berlin.

Bonvicini’s work has been featured in many prominent biennials, including the Berlin Biennale (1998; 2004; 2014); the Busan Biennale (2020); Gwangju Biennale (2006); the Istanbul Biennale (2003; 2017); La TriennaIe, Paris (2012); and the Venice Biennale (1999; 2005; 2011; 2015).

She has had solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Bielefeld (2020); Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna (2019); Berlinische Galerie, Berlin (2017); Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (2016/17); Kunsthalle Mainz, Mainz (2013); Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Hamburg (2012); Centro de Arte Contemporaneo de Malága, Malága (2011); the Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel (2011); the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago (2009); Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel (2009); Modern Art Oxford, Oxford (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. Most recently, Monica Bonvicini was the winner of the 2020 Oskar Kokoschka Prize in Vienna, Austria.

Module 2

LOVER'S MATERIAL | CHECKLIST

GRID SLIDESHOW 1

MONICA BONVICINI, And Resistance (2020)

MONICA BONVICINI

And Resistance (2020)

Spray paint on Fabriano paper, mounted on aluminum

78 3/4 by 59 1/16 in.  200 by 150 cm.

(MI&N 16782)

Inquire
MONICA BONVICINI, Me Fem (2020)

MONICA BONVICINI

Me Fem (2020)

Spray paint on Fabriano paper, mounted on aluminum

29 1/2 by 19 11/16 in.  75 by 50 cm.

(MI&N 16783)

Inquire
MONICA BONVICINI, ME ME (2020)

MONICA BONVICINI

ME ME (2020)

Spray paint on Fabriano paper, mounted on aluminum

29 1/2 by 19 11/16 in.  75 by 50 cm.

(MI&N 16784)

Inquire
MONICA BONVICINI, Black Chain Grid #3 (2020)

MONICA BONVICINI

Black Chain Grid #3 (2020)

Tempera and spray paint on Fabriano paper, mounted on aluminum

59 1/16 by 39 3/8 in.  150 by 100 cm.

(MI&N 16785)

Inquire
MONICA BONVICINI, Ekel (2020)

MONICA BONVICINI

Ekel (2020)

Ditone print on paper, mounted on alu-dibond, ed. 1/3 plus 1 AP

75 15/16 by 47 1/4 by 1 1/6 in.  193 by 120 by 3 cm.

(MI&N 16788)

Inquire
MONICA BONVICINI, In My Hand (2019)

MONICA BONVICINI

In My Hand (2019)

Murano glass and metal buckle, open edition with unique variation

5 7/8 by 13 3/4 by 9 7/8 in.  15 by 35 by 25 cm.

(MI&N 16502)

Inquire
MONICA BONVICINI, Grab Them by the Balls #1 (2020)

MONICA BONVICINI

Grab Them by the Balls #1 (2020)

Bronze, open edition

2 15/16 by 10 by 5 1/2 in.  7.5 by 25.5 by 14 cm.

(MI&N 16790)

Inquire
MONICA BONVICINI, Marlboro Man (2019)

MONICA BONVICINI

Marlboro Man (2019)

Digital print on aluminum, ed. 1/3 plus 2 AP

157 1/2 by 244 1/8 in.  400 by 620 cm.

(MI&N 16787)

Inquire
MONICA BONVICINI, Eternmale (2000)

MONICA BONVICINI

Eternmale (2000)

Collage on paper

24 3/8 by 32 3/4 by 1 15/16 in.  62 by 82 by 5 cm.

(MI&N 13877)

Inquire
MONICA BONVICINI, Marlboro (1995)

MONICA BONVICINI

Marlboro (1995)

Paper mosaic

11 11/16 by 8 1/4 in.  29.7 by 21 cm.

(MI&N 16811)

Inquire
MONICA BONVICINI, Marlboro (1995)

MONICA BONVICINI

Marlboro (1995)

Paper mosaic

10 15/16 by 8 1/4 in.  27.7 by 21 cm.

(MI&N 16810)

Inquire
MONICA BONVICINI, Little Liar (2020)

MONICA BONVICINI

Little Liar (2020)

UV gel print on Vlies wallpaper, edition of 3 plus 1 AP

151 5/8 by 184 5/8 in.  385 by 469 cm.

(MI&N 16786)

Inquire
MONICA BONVICINI, Breach of Decor (2020)

MONICA BONVICINI

Breach of Decor (2020)

Linked textile print, ed. 5/5 plus 2 AP

283 1/2 by 377 15/16 in.  720 by 960 cm.

(MI&N 16789)

Inquire
red pepper

MONICA BONVICINI

Breach of Decor (Red Pepper) (2020)

Linked textile print, edition of 5 plus 2 AP

70 7/8 by 94 1/2 in.  180 by 240 cm.

(MI&N 16799)

Inquire
violet

MONICA BONVICINI

Breach of Decor (Violet) (2020)

Linked textile print, edition of 5 plus 2 AP

70 7/8 by 94 1/2 in.  180 by 240 cm.

(MI&N 16798)

Inquire
MONICA BONVICINI, Breach of Decor (Striped) (2020)

MONICA BONVICINI

Breach of Decor (Striped) (2020)

Linked textile print, edition of 5 plus 2 AP

47 1/4 by 70 7/8 in.  120 by 180 cm.

(MI&N 16800)

Inquire
MONICA BONVICINI, Breach of Decor (Black and White) (2020)

MONICA BONVICINI

Breach of Decor (Black and White) (2020)

Linked textile print, edition of 5 plus 2 AP

35 7/16 by 94 1/2 in.  90 by 240 cm.

(MI&N 16804)

Inquire
MONICA BONVICINI, The Beauty You Offer Under the Electric Light (2016)

MONICA BONVICINI

The Beauty You Offer Under the Electric Light (2016)

Lacquered bronze, ed. 1/5 plus 2 AP

4 3/8 by 2 3/4 by 7/8 in.  11.1 by 7 by 2.2 cm.

(MI&N 13488)

Inquire
MONICA BONVICINI, Kleine Lichtkanone (2009)

MONICA BONVICINI

Kleine Lichtkanone (2009)

10 fluorescent lights, 15 Watts each, tie wraps, ed. 7/9

54 1/2 by 24 by 5 in.  138.4 by 61 by 12.7 cm.

(MI&N 13865)

Inquire