Among the central issues in Monica Bonvicini’s works are structures of power and relations between the genders. If she started her career as an artist by examining the construction of sexual identity in relation to architecture, she soon began to focus on those places where questions of dominance and repression are acted out directly: darkrooms and fetish clubs. For her installation “Never Again”, which earned her the Nationalgalerie’s award for an emerging artist in 2005, she transformed an exhibition room at the Museum Hamburger Bahnhof into a playground suggestive of sadomasochistic practices: twelve slings made of black leather were suspended on steel chains from a construction scaffold. The visitors were welcome to take a seat in the slings, but doing so forced them to spread their legs. Set in the White Cube of the museum, “Never Again” thus also turned out to be a scathing response to relational aesthetics with its staunch belief in participation. Though the installation did invite the visitors to participate, it literally enchained them. For Texte zur Kunst, Monica Bonvicini has designed an object entitled “19 Tonnes For You”. It consists of three steel chain links painted with black lacquer such as are otherwise used with building cranes. The first part of the title alludes to this purpose the material serves: the elements are designed to bear weights of up to 19 tons. By addressing the owner directly, the second part points to the work’s variable nature. Isolated from their context of origin, the chain links with their gleaming surfaces suggest an abstract sculpture that can be assembled in a variety of ways. The work accordingly looks now like a maquette for a Henry Moore-style recumbent figure, now like a constructivist model from Alexander Rodchenko’s studio. The chains of “19 Tonnes For You”, that is to say, do not constrain the beholder; to the contrary, they initiate a play, as weighty as it is light, with formal possibilities and art-historical associations.
For Texte zur Kunst, Monica Bonvicini has designed a three-part steel chain entitled “19 Tonnes For You” (2011). Unfurled, the chain measures 22 × 6,6 × 5 cm; it is signed and numbered on a label attached by a steel cord. The work comes in an edition of 100 + 20 APs and costs 350,– Euro plus shipping.