The exhibition devoted to the artist Cosima von Bonin (*1962) at Museum Ludwig
is part of a work in progress that has developed across four European cities. It began in Rotterdam, continued to unfold in Bristol, and then in Geneva. For each station, the artist collaborated with the respective institution to create a singular version of the show. And now the whole show will reach its high point, and come to a dynamic conclusion in Cosima von Bonins own hometown.
Cologne thus forms the final loop in this circular exhibition concept, a form already indicated in its title: Lazy Susan, a colloquial term referring to a rotating platter placed in the middle of a dining table for easy access to food. The choice of a household accessory that bears a female name is no coincidence, and just as significant here is the idea of laziness, a recurring motif in Cosima von Bonins work. The central new piece in the four loops of the Lazy Susan series, Amateur Dramatics (2010), was co-produced by the participating institutions and takes the form of the eponymous Lazy Susan: a large rotating disc that looks like a mix between carousel and presentation platform. The artist will place various previously created works atop the disc, with the Purple Sloth Rabbit (2010) enjoying a fixed place in the center a large reclining rabbit figure with the word SLOTH embroidered underneath the feet.
For Museum Ludwigs vast skylit display hall, the starting point for the show, von Bonin has created a piece that is at once artwork and exhibition architecture. Six oversized tables ranging in height from 2.7 to 5.4 meters fill the space and offer various presentation levels, whereby both the table surface and the space beneath are used for display. Here, the artist actively incorporates the special features of this high-ceilinged hall with its suspended gallery into her work, offering the visitor a completely new and unaccustomed viewing situation.
Across five rooms and various media settings, the exhibition continues to unfurl, even outdoors, where in the work Tagedieb (2010) a long-nosed and hence obviously dishonest Pinocchio sit¬¬¬¬s high up on an umpires chair. Some 70 works, among them numerous new productions and a few rarely exhibited pieces, are on view in the Cologne show. Cosima von Bonin avoids becoming fixated on a single medium or style; typical of her work are soft materials and textiles, which summon associations with stereotypical female pastimes while also expressing the apparent inertia of her figural works. A host of references and reminiscences, evoked primarily through the use of language in the titles as well as in the works themselves, lend the whole an ironic tone which however never creates a distancing effect.
Collaboration with artist colleagues from a wide range of fields is another central characteristic of von Bonins work. For the Cologne exhibition she invited creative talents from the worlds of music, theater, literature, film and art to contribute. This participation includes supporting events as well as works within the exhibition itself. Among those invited are Moritz von Oswald, Andreas Dorau, Frances Scholz, Jacques Tati, George Romero, Friedrich Wolfram Heu-bach, Dirk von Lowtzow, René Pollesch and Mark von Schlegell.
The catalogue for the exhibition represents a further extension in this sense, into the world of publishing and hence the public realm: along with curatorial essays, it also features the story Starlite by Mark von Schlegell, which has evolved episodically from exhibition to exhibition, an article by Friedrich Wolfram Heubach, and a multi-part interview between Daffy Duck and Cosima von Bonin written by Dirk von Lowtzow.