With GUILT, Bonvicini comes back to the language-based works, the strand of her practice that was previously presented in exhibitions and public art commissions worldwide.
Bonvicini's works often relate to the material realities of popular culture, architecture, modernism, and art history. She seeks to perform critical gestures - investigate, assess, discuss, disclose, mock, and point to vulnerable and flawed parts of our society. Her art practice is an unruly response to discrimination, bigotry, and misogyny that she picks up in everyday situations and happenings surrounding us. The work in KÖNIG GALERIE draws on widely distributed and accepted images of masculinity and class - the social factors that play the key role in the abuse of power.
In the square space of the gallery's Chapel, a bulky typographic work, titled 62 Tons of Guilt, is lying on the floor. Visitors wonder whether the sculpture has fallen down from the ceiling into the chapel, and got suspended in a paused frame of motion, caught in a permanent status quo. Its surface is glossy, gilded in gold. The relief-like sculptural composition is composed of five different letters, each of different height. Their kerning is particularly tight, which makes the word hardly legible. Industrial steel chains are hanging from the ceiling, holding the piece. The work resembles a scaled-up pendant, a rather pretentious fashion accessory that would herald its owner's wealth, social status and cultural identity. Other items that enter the exhibition - a baseball cap and a necklace - feature fonts that recall high school jerseys or corporate branding. The works exemplify wit and irony, typical to Bonvicini's practice.
The five-letter golden word "GUILT" becomes the leitmotif of the exhibition. "Guilt" is a ubiquitous concept that we learn early in childhood, yet it is also an abstract term, and one that keeps being revised and redefined constantly. Guilt is also one of the key ideas that overrun both our juridical and religious systems. It can be individual or collective, and it can be accumulated, just like capital, and the two often go hand-in-hand. But how heavy is guilt, so to ask?*
Following the recent torrent of various disclosures, personal and political scoops and scandals, one might ask what kind of potential the publicised and mediated guilt still holds. Public apologies have become rather vacuous appearances as they have been transformed into condescending confessions. The lexicon and words as 'sorry' are mere placeholders, empty forms of language. Such guilt does not bear any promise of change. The heavy golden pendant, the 'quasi-presidential' cap, and the ironically tacky necklace materialise this problematic social development, embodying it the precious precarity of 62 tons.
* The question comes from the German idiom "die besondere Schwere der Schuld," literally translated as 'the special heaviness of guilt.'