Artist Spotlight: Monica Bonvicini

Artist Spotlight: Monica Bonvicini

Born: 1965, Venice, Italy

Lives and works in: Berlin, Germany

Current exhibition: ‘3612,54m³ vs 0,005m³’ at Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, 16 September, 2017 – 26 February, 2018

Monica Bonvicini’s solo exhibition ‘3612,54 m³ vs 0,005 m³’ at the Berlinische Galerie has been on display since September and will be closing at the end of February. The show opened at the inauguration of Berlin Art Week in September 2017 and ran parallel to the 15th Istanbul Biennale, in which Bonvicini also participated.

The artist’s diverse practice investigates the relationships between people, institutions and cultural spaces. Recurring thematic concerns for Bonvicini include architecture, power, gender, space, surveillance and control. The title of the show, for example, places the volume of the museum space (3612,54 m³) in relation to the volume of the artist’s body (0,005 m³). Rationalising physical space in numerical form is typical of her conceptual approach to art. This methodology, which sees her deconstruct the interaction between artist and object formulaically, reveals her tendency towards minimalism.

Passing (2017), Monica Bonvicini. Image courtesy the artist and gallery.

The exhibition space

The exhibition is accessed through a single door within a large scaffolding wall. This architectural installation is Bonvicini’s Passing (2017). Following one’s entry, the door slams shut. The sound booms around the space with an alarming intensity. A thirty-three-foot oscillating whip, titled Breathing (2017), dominates the room. Its intimidating presence creates a sensation of foreboding and danger. The intertwining leather belts of Belts Ball (Double Two) (2017) are transformed into anthropomorphic entities imbued with a disturbing fetish. Waiting #1 (2017) further magnifies the sinister aura that fills the expansive space.

Breathing (2017), Monica Bonvicini. Image courtesy the artist and gallery.

Each work elicits an ominous display of power. Beneath the works’ surface, there exists an undertone of socio-political anxiety. Bonvicini does not shy away from political engagement and this new set of works can be seen to symbolise the tensions that have come to exist within contemporary Western societies.

Bonvicini’s works not only question the meaning of making art and the ambiguity of language but also the limits and possibilities attached to the ideal of freedom. Dry-humoured, direct, and instilled with historical, political and social references, Bonvicini’s provocative art establishes a critical connection with the sites where it is exhibited, the materials that comprise it, and the roles of spectator and creator.

Belts Ball (Double Two) (2017), Monica Bonvicini. Image courtesy the artist and gallery.

The artist is also in a group show at Kunstsaele Berlin, titled ‘Satisfy Me’. Curated by Philipp Bollmann, Bonvicini is accompanied by artists including Duane Michals, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Roger Ballen and more.


Monica Bonvicini (b. 1965 in Venice, Italy) studied in Berlin and at Cal Arts, Valencia, CA. Since 2003 she holds a position as Professor for Performative Arts, Space Strategies and Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Beginning in October 2017 she assumed the professorship for sculpture at the Universität der Künste, Berlin. Bonvicini has been awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale (1999) and the National Gallery Prize for Young Art 2005, Berlin. Her solo exhibitions have been held at Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2002), Sculpture Center, New York (2007), the Art Institute of Chicago (2009), the Kunstmuseum Basel (2009), the Kunsthalle Fridericianum in Kassel (2011), BALTIC Center for Contemporary Art in Newcastle (2016), among many others.

Author: George Greenhill

Cover image: Waiting #1 (2017), Monica Bonvicini. Image courtesy the artist and gallery.