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Monica Bonvincini's first UK survey exhibition on view at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Monica Bonvicini (b. Italy, 1965) creates powerful work that investigates and challenges the relationships between architecture, control, gender, space, and power.

GATESHEAD.- BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead is presenting the first UK survey exhibition and a major new commission by Monica Bonvicini, one of the most vital artists to have emerged during the mid-1990s.

Monica Bonvicini (b. Italy, 1965) creates powerful work that investigates and challenges the relationships between architecture, control, gender, space, and power. She is best known for works including her video installation Wallfuckin’ 1995/6, architectural installations like Plastered 1998, sculptures such as Never Again 2005 and public works including the mirrored glass Don’t Miss a Sec’. 2004. Some permanently sited public works include She Lies 2010, floating on the water in the Oslo Opera House harbour, and the 2012 light installation RUN in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

Bonvicini’s eclectic practice includes sculpture, installation, video, photography and text. Her work ranges from the intimate to the architectural in scale, questioning some of the often hidden forces that shape identity. Dry humoured and imbued with historical, political and social references, the artist’s work never refrains from establishing a vital connection with the sites where it is exhibited, the materials that comprise it, and the role of the spectator. A main theme of the artist’s work looks at the stereotypes of, and the dialogue between, architecture and the construction of sexual identity.

This important monographic exhibition, presented across BALTIC’s Level 3 and Level 4 galleries, will include works from throughout the artist’s career alongside those that have been specially commissioned. The exhibition architecture itself - an environment that is always fabricated - will also receive the artists’ treatment. A major new commission for the presentation is a 700 square metre architectural space designed by the artist for BALTIC’s Level 3 gallery to display works from 2000-2016, never-before shown in such a tight combination. The environment and the some 20 sculptures it contains—including Black You 2010, Leather Tools 2003-09, Harness 2006 and Powder Belts 2015 form an anthropology of sexualised imagery that builds upon the 1990s theories of gender identity to which the artist’s work is closely aligned. The construction also elaborates upon Bonvicini’s enquiry into the act of building, connected to ideas of domesticity, dwelling and notions of decor.

The exhibition on BALTIC’s Level 4 Gallery is organised around Bonvicini’s ongoing interest in institutional critique and oppositions of labour—construction versus artistic. The giant text sculpture SATISFY ME 2010, hanging on the exterior wall of BALTIC’s north facade, is juxtaposed inside with works including Light Me Black 2009, at the very entrance, followed by Building Up for Art 1996, comprised of photographs of the installation of exhibitions in different museums viewed through peepholes, and 7.30 hrs, the results of German bricklayers' final practical exams, built on site by Bricklaying students of Newcastle College, that resemble Minimalist sculpture. Level 4 also includes the iconic Scale of Things (to come) 2010, scaffolding turned into rococo architecture, a new oversized print and a new suite of drawings of destruction following environmental disasters.
Laurence Sillars, Chief Curator at BALTIC, commented: “Deftly moving from the subtle to the slap-in-the-face, Monica Bonvicini’s work provides a timely reminder of the hidden yet pervasive forces that shape our identity and outlook at every turn within the built environment. As rich in arthistorical association as they are the everyday, the drawings, sculptures, video and installations that make up this exhibition provide an invaluable opportunity to reconsider some of the fundamental forces at play in defining the human condition as reflected through the work of this most important artist.”

Monica Bonvicini (b. 1965, Venice) lives and works in Berlin. Since 2003 she has been Professor of Performing Arts and Sculpture at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Vienna. Her work has featured in many prominent biennials, including Berlin (1998, 2003, 2014), Istanbul (2003), Gwangju (2006), New Orleans (2008), La TriennaIe Paris (2012) and Venice (1999, 2001, 2005, 2011, 2015) where she was awarded with the Golden Lion for the best pavilion in 1999. In 2005, she was honoured with the Nationalgalerie Prize for Young Art, Berlin Major solo exhibitions include Kunsthalle Mainz (2013); Deichtorhallen Hamburg (2012); the Kunsthalle Fridericianum in Kassel (2011); the Art Institute of Chicago (2009); Sculpture Center, New York (2007); the Secession, Vienna (2003); Modern Art Oxford, England (2003); and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2002).

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