July 2022
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Monica Bonvicini is interested in the power relations and hidden politics present in much architectural design. Here she is 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 draws our attention to a material that we usually look strait 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 tests the functional remit of the material from which it is constructed – safety glass. The inner layer of each letter has 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 is 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 has obliterated these ideals and the patriarchal under-pinnings many have seen beneath them: the rectilinear quality of Le Corbusier’s windows has been read by feminist critics as strongly patriarchical. Yet the elaborate, fractured gass inside each of Bonvinici's letters conflicts with it’s smooth, polished outer layers, which have been left intact. The logic of the inner, smashed glass operates beyond the modernist frame suggested by the outer service, decentring it just enough to offer a critical toughness within the work’s sensual appeal. Laurence Sillers

Project Credits Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial International 06 Courtesy of the artist and Emi Fontana Gallery, Milan.


16 September – 26 November 2006