Monica Bonvicini: I do You: Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin
In this comprehensive solo exhibition, the Neue Nationalgalerie is showing the influential work of the artist Monica Bonvicini. Entitled “I do You,” the show features two large architectural installations developed specifically for the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe building. Bonvicini’s artistic interventions lead to a reevaluation of the iconic museum space. Now, reflection on the traditionally masculinized power of architecture becomes an intense physical experience.
Bonvicini’s site-specific installation at the Neue Nationalgalerie represents a feminist appropriation of the space conceived by Mies van der Rohe, which she fundamentally changes by means of architectural interventions. Already the entrance is obstructed by a wall that leans against the high roof and towers above it. Inside, an accessible platform redefines the exhibition hall, which normally emphasizes expansiveness and transparency. The mirrored platform opens up unusual perspectives for the visitors so they must confront themselves and their presence in the space, and offers them a view of the hall, its glass walls, and its exterior surroundings from an elevated vantage point.
In addition to the architectural interventions, selected sculptural works from Bonvicini's oeuvre are on display, with which visitors can also interact: For example, her usable "Chainswings" (2022) are integrated into the exhibition, each designed for two people, creating a visual connection to subversive actions and spaces through their materiality of steel and chains. A series of new light works, consisting of LED neon tubes hand-woven with electrical cables, illuminate a corner of the hall as a sculptural structure. Also on view is the early work “2 Tonnen Alte Nationalgalerie” (1998), which consists of vast amounts of rubble removed from the neo-classical facade of the Alte Nationalgalerie. While walking on the terrace around the glass hall, visitors can hear the sound piece “Retrospective” (2022), which highlights Bonvicini’s conceptual use of language: a voice recites numerous titles of artworks that Bonvicini has created over three decades. In conjunction with other light, film, and sound works, the exhibition conveys Bonvicini’s diversity of media and her central themes of feminism and architecture, as well as the questioning of the role of the institution.
Courtesy the artist, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Galerie Krinzinger. © Monica Bonvicini, VG-Bild Kunst, Bonn, 2022 / Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Photo: Jens Ziehe