Monica Bonvicini

Monica Bonvicini, BUILTFORCRIME, 2006

Monica Bonvicini, BUILTFORCRIME, 2006

Monica Bonvicini (b.1965, Venice, Italy) is interested in the power relations and hidden politics presented in much architectural design.

In her piece entitled BUILTFORCRIME (2006) for International 06, Bonvicini was concerned with glass – a building material synonymous with the utopian Modernist visions of architects such as Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. The sculpture drew our attention to a material that we usually look straight through precisely by breaking it – and, at the same time, cracking the patriarchal underpinnings of Modernist architecture.

Spelling out the phrase ‘BUILTFORCRIME’, Bonvicini’s imposing sculpture of glass and light tested the functional remit of the material from which it was constructed – safety glass. The inner layer of each letter received impacts causing it to shatter while still retaining it’s form. The statement of the text and the mode, or act, of production/destruction was a contradiction of the intended use of the material – not, of course, to be smashed.

This is not the work’s only paradox. Glass was the material of choice for great modernist architects such as Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe and has become synonymous with the utopian visions presented by their buildings. Cracking it, Bonvicini obliterated these ideals and the patriarchal under-pinnings many had seen beneath them: the rectilinear quality of Le Corbusier’s windows have been read by feminist critics as strongly patriarchal. Yet the elaborate, fractured glass inside each of Bonvinici's letters conflicted with it’s smooth, polished outer layers, which had been left intact. The logic of the inner, smashed glass operated beyond the modernist frame suggested by the outer service, decentring it just enough to offer a critical toughness within the work’s sensual appeal.

Monica Bonvicini at Liverpool Biennial 2006

Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2006
Exhibited at Tate Liverpool

Supported by

Courtesy of the artist and Emi Fontana Gallery, Milan.