Reflection on the role of architecture and the cultural conditioning related to it are fundamental themes in Monica Bonvicini’s work. With an approach that can be confrontational, the artist addresses the traditional modernist view according to which the act of building is an essentially male prerogative. Using harsh and often extremely explicit language, the artist exposes the close relationship that binds the built space to the image of power, calling into question the passive role traditionally assigned to women. Despite the static laws that govern the creation of spaces, ideas of destruction and instability are often present in Bonvicini’s work, and the artist attributes equal value to the acts of destroying and building, since both actions produce a new creation.
In Destroy She Said (D.S.S.), 1998, a two video projections display a series of excerpts from films made from the 1950s through the 1970s. Images of women leaning against a wall, perhaps looking for shelter or comfort, alternate with clips that show the relationship between the subjects and their domestic architectural settings. While removed from their original context, the excerpts, projected onto plasterboard screens, retain their emotional charge, which at times becomes almost dramatic. Scattered around the screens are random materials left over from construction sites. The installation reveals the relationship of constriction and submission that, also in the language of film, seems to insistently link the female body to its surrounding architectural spaces.
Bedtimesquare, 1999, is a sort of bed where the structure is made from industrial materials, including plasterboard and tiles, immediately identifiable with those used on construction sites. The design of the rectangular structure refers to the language of Minimalism and to the search for geometric forms traditionally attributed to male logic. The juxtaposition of the inflatable mattress is deliberately ironic in tone. Placed atop the “cold” materials that make up the structure, it becomes a sensual presence, alluding to corporeality.