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Monica Bonvicini, „Not Ever“, (2023)

Monica Bonvicini

Not Ever (2023)

Monica Bonvicini’s feminist art practice continues to undermine the patriarchal foundations of architecture. Most recently, she shattered the transparency so characteristic of Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie building through a number of her sculptural installations. Take, for instance, “I Do You” (2022): constructed from a mirrored facade material and leaned against the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed museum exterior, the piece itself temporarily became an iconic feature of the public space. The work reminded arriving visitors of their own physicality even before they entered into the exhibition hall. Inside, Bonvicini’s “You to Me” (2022) invited them to become exhibits themselves by spending at least 30 minutes in handcuffs hung down from the ceiling on chains.For the edition “Not Ever” (2023), Bonvicini detaches handcuffs from their relational context: by locking a single metal cuff shut and inscribing it with the words “DO NOT EVER ALLOW YOUR FAMILY TO BE AROUND YOU,” she inhibits the use of the object – thus depriving it of any kind of ostensible purpose. In keeping with Juliane Rebentisch’s theses on Bonvicini’s “Leather Tools” becoming fetish art, the edition facilitates an excessive production of meaning: “family,” for example, can be read as code for a constricting normativity that must categorically be kept at arm’s length. The subject addressed by the statement made in “Not Ever” may also have a sense of being left to their own psychological devices, if handcuffs are understood as a means of relating to a counterpart – whether this be a cultural structure (as with “You to Me”), state authority, or sexual partners.