Chains, cages and feminist desires: Monica Bonvicini in Vienna

Chains, cages and feminist desires: Monica Bonvicini in Vienna

Monica Bonvicini’s show ‘Stagecage’ at Vienna’s Galerie Krinzinger is sinister and sublime 

In Vienna, Berlin-based Italian artist Monica Bonvicini is exploring history, memory, and power via an architectural vocabulary in ‘Stagecage’. 

The show’s title is inspired by the 2017 exhibition ‘StageCraft’ at Columbia University, which showcased intricate models of buildings by legendary architects including Le Corbusier, Norman Foster, and Peter Zumthor.

In Bonvicini’s show, which runs until 30 October 2021, cool-cut aluminium structures are bound by a mass of knotted watches and leather belts. On the sleek, gleaming surface, these are family homes on a doll’s-house scale, perhaps drawing on themes of domesticity. But these are far from homely; they are prison-like structures with another subtext: sexuality, fetish and humour, and the suffocating cages of patriarchal structures. 
 

The artist, who was awarded the Golden Lion at the Biennale di Venezia in 1999 is known for large-scale works and a versatile approach to materials and media. Through ​​performance, photography, video, painting, collage and text-based pieces, Bonvicini explores architecture and its relationship to identity, sexuality, control, gender, space, surveillance, and power; sinister meets sublime in a cavern of intrigue.

Placed on reflective surfaces, her houses appear suspended or extended. Bonvicini’s use of mirrors is both an illusion and a reminder: all that shines must be maintained through hard, continuous labour and care. The houses look unoccupied, but there are hidden forces in the absent space: feminist desires, witty fancies and a lot of questions. 

Visitors also find Willy Guhl’s iconic midcentury ’Loop’ chairs for Eternit shrouded in leather aprons, and the new neon work Joy, Power, Humor & Resistance, 2021 which glows with authority, empowerment and ambiguity. The work is evocative of billboard advertisement in form, but its content asserts a message of courage against capitalist oppression. Joy, Power, Humor & Resistance is duplicated by the large-scale wall piece, Elsewhere In Be Your Mirror, 2020, which traps its surroundings and all those who spectate in hazy reflection. §

 Monica Bonvicini, ’STAGECAGE’, Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna (Until 30 October). Courtesy Galerie Krinzinger
 Monica Bonvicini, ’STAGECAGE’, Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna (Until 30 October). Courtesy Galerie Krinzinger
 Monica Bonvicini, ’STAGECAGE’, Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna (Until 30 October). Courtesy Galerie Krinzinger

 

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