Monica Bonvicini’s practice combines a meticulous attention to form with an equally pressing examination of the social aspect of architecture and public space, as well as how it can be used to construct sexual identity. Her sculptures, installations, photographs and videos question the neutrality of architecture, artistic creation, and power structures. This is work that seeks out an almost unavoidable dialogue with the public, full of irony, irreverence and ambivalence. Its purity of form, juxtaposed or united with a meaning that is often tongue-in-cheek, conjures up a striking aura of chilly elegance.
For her first solo show at Galleria Massimo Minini, Monica Bonvicini has conceived a rich exhibition project that brings together various sculptures, installations and works on paper, all of remarkable intensity.
The main room of the gallery holds sculptures from the series 7:30 hrs. Resembling masonry structures or architectural models, they are actually objects constructed in accordance with the exercises in Germany’s obligatory certification exams for bricklayers. The resulting minimalist aesthetic is accompanied and destabilized by 200 red embroideries on paper. This piece from 2010, NeedleKnows, stretches out to cover over ten meters of wall space, adding to her reflection on the politics of material labor.
The installations Black You and Straps & Mirror revolve around another theme central to Bonvicini’s recent work: the role of art as a fetish commodity, in keeping with the Marxist concept of alienation, and as narcissistic spectacle.
The neon sculpture Blind Protection (2013), which stands out in sharp contrast with the black surface of the two works described above, fills its surroundings with a dazzling light that almost erases the boundaries of the space in which it is hung.
A more intimate vein is instead explored in the works on paper: original sketches for7:30 hrs, preparatory drawings for her installation from the 2011 Venice Biennale, 15 Steps to the Virgin, or her new collages LegscutsOut. A citation from one of theUntitled drawings lends the show its title. Traced in white ink on transparent paper are the nearly illegible texts that the artist has composed by transcribing songs in real time as she listens to them. Like an exercise in automatic poetry, the writing remains incomplete, detached from its source, a heap of words that render the drawings monochromatic.