Installation view: THIS IS NOT FOR YOU. Sculptural Discourses, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, 2006-2007 © Michael Strasser / TBA21, 2006-2007

Galvanized steel letters, 40 W-light bulbs, computerized light program
99 x 400 x 14 cm

NOTFORYOU is a confrontation and a paradox: I see something that at once informs me that it does not mean me, but in so informing me, it addresses me in the most direct fashion. Yet if NOTFORYOU, according to its own claim, is not for me, then who is it for? What is ostensibly put at stake here is the expectation that a work of art is intended for viewers and perhaps even for potential buyers. By negating its potential status as property, then, the work exhibits this very status, its being a collectible object. Yet this negation is not purely semantic in nature; it is equally founded on the way this work is made and the effect it evokes: letters composed of 40-volt light bulbs reminiscent of the advertising lighting in old-fashioned amusement parks forcefully attract the visitor’s glances—but instead of capturing his or her gaze, they repulse it with their blinding glare. We are obviously confronted with an object that does not seek to captivate us on an affective level, instead marking a difference between itself and us. But what, then, does NOTFORYOU address, if not (merely) itself? As the dematerializing effect of the light virtually effaces the objecthood of the letters, the act and process of presentation and reception move to the center of the viewer’s attention. In these cases, the interest of perception lies not so much in the object’s aesthetic quality as in the material conditions and physical medium of its visibility. Precisely because NOTFORYOU pretends to be nothing more than a short-lived visual effect or sensual affect, the viewer faces a sustained challenge: to distinguish between situational sensory impressions, calculated technique, and aesthetic effect. And this very sort of differential perception seems to divide the space created by the light from the incandescent bulbs into on and off states, into visibility and invisibility: what is, what remains when the light is turned off? As this question arises, the border that separates the “I” of the work of art from “you,” the viewer, becomes a fictional assertion that collapses at the very moment it is perceived. This sort of approach can be compared to forms of works that explore the institution—the gallery, the museum, the collection, etc.—as a socially and economically determined site of representation, potentially in order to transform it by reinterpretation into a different, public space. Comparable to Lawrence Weiner’s “Statement,” according to which the meaning of a work is irreducible either to its material nature or, hence, to the form of its possession, NOTFORYOU will develop its potential for confrontation at precisely those sites that seek to appropriate it.
— Sabeth Buchmann

*1965 in Venice, Italy | Living and working in Berlin, Germany
Monica Bonvicini is an Italian artist. She lives and works in Berlin since 1986. In 2003, Bonvicini was appointed as the Professor of Sculpture and Performance at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna. Starting in 2017, she is the new Professor of Sculpture at the Universität der Künste Berlin. In her work Bonvicini investigates the relationship between power structures, gender and space. Bonvicini works intermediately with installation, sculpture, video, photography and drawing mediums. She has installed permanent artworks at the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park in London, the harbour at the Oslo Opera House and the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. Bonvicini was appointed Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 2012.

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