Berlinische Galerie exhibits works by Monica Bonvicini

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Berlinische Galerie exhibits works by Monica Bonvicini
Waiting #1, 2017. Courtesy the artist and Knig Galerie, Berlin; Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zrich; Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Mailand/ Milan. Monica Bonvicini and VG Bild-Kunst. Photo: Jens Ziehe.

BERLIN.- The title of the exhibition refers to the volume of the space itself (3612.54 m) and to that of the artist (0.05 m), drawing attention to parallels and discontinuities as well as mining the relationship between space and its contents. The volume of the artist, calculated using her height and weight, stands for each visitor as well.

Over the course of her career, Monica Bonvicini has always explored the complex relationship between physical and social space, its historical, political and economical implications as well as the conditions imposed by institutional exhibition spaces. The presentation in the first exhibition hall of the Berlinische Galerie features two installations. Both investigate the construction of the hall itself and its capacity as an exhibition space, pushing it to the very limits of its function.

A freestanding structure obstructs the space and slows down the flow of visitors entering it, emphasising the central role architecture plays in defining how subjects behave in and move around a space. With its means of construction exposed – a reference to the stage-like character of facades and architecture –, the installation acts as an autonomous sculptural element, alluding to the distinctive historical features of the museum building. The back of the wall is covered with aluminium panels that reflect the space, but also encourage reflection on it.

In the second 10-metre-high installation, an air cylinder generally used for industrial purposes animates a whip-like structure. Moving through the space at different speeds, the whip’s motion is determined by a rhythm composed by the artist. The choreography oscillates between hypnotising steadiness and alarming rapidity, forcing the visitors to find their own way around the space and come to terms with its dimensions. The air needed to animate the installation is taken from the museum’s art depository, the lines running through the ceilings and walls. Thus, Bonvicini’s art infiltrates the institution in ways both seen and unseen.

Bonvicini’s installations are accompanied by a number of other works, including two Diener (“servants“) made from push-pull props used to align wall formwork. Tools, industrial materials and the social norms of the microcosm of the building site have been the subject of Bonvicini’s work since the 1990s. The materials and objects added to the push-pull props of the Diener divorce them from their original context. An evolved form of the readymade, these pieces are reminiscent both of eccentric design and fetish objects, underscoring the charge of artworks that ranges from the auratic to the fetishistic.

The Beauty You Offer Under the Electric Light (2016) is a bronze sculpture of a light switch that reads “no” instead of “on”. Innocuously placed at the margins of the installation, it offers a comment that is as much pointed as it is humorous – if on the exhibition, the architecture or the institution remains unsaid.

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