“I do You” by the artist Monica Bonvicini is a sculptural appropriation of the architecture of the Neue Nationalgalerie: a huge mirrored wall on the façade and a large platform in the exhibition hall defy the transparent, spacious impression of the room and open up unusual perspectives for visitors. In addition to the specially developed, site-specific installations, sculptural objects, performative works and sound works by the Berlin-based artist from the 1990s to the present can be seen.
Image above: Monica Bonvicini. I do You, exhibition view Neue Nationalgalerie, 25.11.2022-30.4.2023, Courtesy the artist, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Galerie KrinzingerCopyright the artist, VG-Bild Kunst, Bonn, 2022, / Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jens Ziehe
“I do You” turns Mies van der Rohe’s iconic museum space into a space for reflection on the traditionally male connotated power of architecture. Bonvicini’s site-specific installation in the Neue Nationalgalerie sees itself as a feminist appropriation of the space conceived by Mies van der Rohe, which she fundamentally changes through architectural interventions. The entrance is already obstructed by a wall that leans against the high roof and towers over it. In the interior, a walk-on platform redefines the exhibition hall, which is oriented towards expansiveness and transparency. The mirrored platform opens up unusual perspectives for the visitors, confronts them with themselves and their presence in the space and allows them to view the fully glazed hall and its external surroundings from an elevated position.
In addition to the architectural interventions, selected sculptural works from Bonvicini’s oeuvre are on display, with which visitors can also interact: For example, her usable “Chain Swings” (2022) are integrated into the exhibition, swings designed for two people each, which create a visual connection to subversive actions and spaces through their materiality of steel and chains.
A series of new light works, consisting of LED neon tubes interwoven by hand with electric cables, illuminate a corner of the hall as a sculptural structure. Also on view is the early work “2 Tons Old National Gallery” (1998), which consists of rubble removed from the classicist façade of the Old National Gallery. While walking around the glass hall on the terrace, visitors will hear the new sound work “Retrospective” (2022), which illustrates Bonvicini’s conceptual use of language by reciting the titles of works from the last three decades. In combination with other light, film and sound works, the exhibition conveys Bonvicini’s diversity of media and her central themes of feminism and architecture, as well as the associated questioning of the role of the institution.
The exhibition title “I do You” (translated as “I make you”), formulated as an imperative, is deliberately ambiguous. Understood as an “I want you”, Bonvicini lets the museum speak to the city as a place of cultural production. At the same time, “I do You” reads as the artist’s provocative announcement to the institution to occupy the building inside and out.
Bonvicini has devoted herself intensively to the subject of architecture for years. Her main focus is on the often overlooked, hidden ideologies that underlie Western modernism. Their logics and myths, as well as their gender-specific inscriptions, are repeatedly revealed and ironically destabilised by the artist in her works. Her exhibitions always arise from a precise reflection of the given space, which she often massively changes structurally. Thus she draws in additional walls, erects fences or scaffolding, installs stairs or reflective surfaces. “I do You” is a consistent continuation of these approaches developed early on. Bonvicini’s artistic interventions can be understood as an attack on a chauvinistic supremacy in architecture and aim to reclaim and reoccupy space as a place.
With Bonvicini’s invitation, the Neue Nationalgalerie pays tribute to an artist who has become internationally known out of Berlin and whose art persistently calls on us to revise outdated categories and to question the institution of the museum as such.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by Distanz Verlag, with forewords by Klaus Biesenbach and Gabriele Quandt, an introduction by the curators as well as essays by David Adjaye, Diedrich Diederichsen and Dario Gamboni, German/English, hardcover, 176 pages, numerous colour illustrations, ISBN 978-3-95476-506-5, 40 €
There will be an extensive supporting programme to the exhibition, including talks with Jill Killjoy, Simone Kellerhoff and René de Sans in the context of the “Perspective Change” series, an artist talk followed by a book presentation and a concert by drummer Andrea Belfi.
Curated by Joachim Jäger and Irina Hiebert Grun, Neue Nationalgalerie
The exhibition is made possible by the Friends of the National Gallery with the kind support of the Leinemann Foundation for Education and Art. The exhibition is sponsored by Gaggenau Hausgeräte GmbH, which continues its commitment to the Neue Nationalgalerie. The exhibition is supported by the Rudolf Augstein Foundation.
Potsdamer Straße 50
Tue – Sun 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
Thu open until 8:00 pm