科西玛·冯·博宁(Cosima von Bonin): “如果他们狂吠怎么办?”

科西玛·冯·博宁(Cosima von Bonin):“What If It Barks?” (如果他们狂吠怎么办?)
Cosima von Bonin
WHAT IF IT BARKS?
Featuring AUTHORITY PURÉE
February 23 – April 21, 2018
456 W 18th Street

这次展览是冯·博宁在Petzel画廊(美国纽约)举办的第八次展览,延续了艺术家对海洋生物的长期兴趣,两年前,她的巡回展览“谁在深海开采谁?”,展示了自己的假浮雕包括酿牡蛎,鲨鱼,五颜六色的龙虾和章鱼;吹起的海豚堆;和瓷壳和海星。在这个新的节目中,冯博宁汇集了一个不同的航海学校,包括一个大型鲭鱼乐队,配备电吉他和原声吉他,并链接到冲浪板和流浪的衣服上。他们围绕着他们的锡罐 - 标有“AuthorityPurée” - 同时在整个画廊中播放低音乐伴奏。

Who, in Cosima von Bonin’s plush and plastic zoo of cutesy fish, sharks, rhinos, orcas, purple lobsters and hippos, will survive to see the end of the century? Each creature’s fleshy analogue has found itself and its comrades on some watch list for nigh extinction: the seas have run dangerously low of our gilled friends; nearly all the world’s rhinos have been shot for trophies by some member of the Trump family or their kind; and orca and shark populations have declined precipitously. Only the purple reef lobster (found here in an orange cement mixer, its claws dangling out of the machine’s hole) has thrived – but captive, in aquariums across the globe. In the wild, its status remains ‘data deficient’, though worldwide coral collapse suggests its time in saltier seas is nearly up. ‘What If It Barks?’ Von Bonin asks in the exhibition’s title. Given that none of the artist’s creatures make nary a dog or seal’s cry, we would be forgiven for misreading it as, ‘What if it balks?’ That is, refuses to go on. Declines to thrive. ‘You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on,’ the featureless creature in Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable (1953) famously proclaims to his readers. Is the world over, or about to begin again? Von Bonin likewise oscillates between the sweet and the dire, the endangered and the dangerous, going on or going nowhere. ‘Enough romance,’ one fabric flag from 2016 hanging from the gallery ceiling declares, and beside it: ‘Let’s fuck.’

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Cosima von Bonin: ‘What If It Barks?'

展览现场  2018年,纽约Petzel的装置

Cosima von Bonin, 'What If It Barks?', 2018, installation view, Petzel, New York. Courtesy: the artist and Petzel, New York

The exhibition is Von Bonin’s eighth at Petzel Gallery, and continues the artist’s long-running interest in marine life, which culminated two years ago with her travelling exhibition, ‘Who’s Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea?’, featuring its own retinue of false flotsam and jetsam, including stuffed oysters, sharks, colourful lobsters and octopuses; stacks of blow-up dolphins; and porcelain shells and starfish. In this new show, Von Bonin brings together a different school of nautical effluvia, including a large band of mackerel, equipped with electric and acoustic guitars and chained to surfboards and stray, chequered articles of clothing. They surround their tin can – labelled ‘Authority Purée’ – while a low, musical accompaniment plays throughout the gallery. (The entire 2018 installation shares a title with the can’s label.)

Their lips hang open in frozen stupidity, as fish tend to look when they lie flat on the icy beds of outdoor fish markets, and their circular arrangement is somehow haunting in its evocation of the wine-dark future of our rubbish-littered seas. Fish aren’t meant to be strapped to human stuff, and yet here they are, encircled like a Stonehenge in honour of fish and chips aficionados, with instruments they are unable to play chained to their fins. One might even imagine sculpture like this guarding the entrance to one of musician Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurants, common in airports and obscure Florida beach towns, where many fish meet their doom.

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Cosima von Bonin: ‘What If It Barks?'

展览现场  2018年,纽约Petzel的装置

Cosima von Bonin, 'What If It Barks?', 2018, installation view, Petzel, New York. Courtesy: the artist and Petzel, New York

In von Bonin’s anthropocenic fusion of surfer and surfed-upon, a sense of impending dread hangs in the air like a fishhook, ready for us to take its bait, as her sharks seem to have done. Emerging from wooden barrels, open-mouthed in the style of the iconic Jaws poster (1975), the artist’s sharks – What If It Barks 8 (Shark Dust Bin Version) and What If It Barks 9 (Shark Dust Bin Version II) (both 2018) – have caught black and white chequered missiles in their mouths. It’s a funny, but also somehow implacably sad, meeting of two violent forces that have long occupied our collective imagination: the instinctual killing desire of the fish, and the instinctual killing desire of the fisherman (or drone operator). One from below, one from above. The first, of course, is innocent, and here, even a little cute. The second is worthy of our scorn, despite its plush disguise.

Cosima von Bonin: What if it Barks? runs at Petzel Gallery, New York, until 21 April.

Main image: Cosima von Bonin, 'What If It Barks?', 2018, installation view, Petzel, New York. Courtesy: the artist and Petzel, New York

Cosima von Bonin: ‘What If It Barks?'

展览现场  2018年,纽约Petzel的装置

At Petzel Gallery, New York, an installation of anthropomorphic sea creatures explores sinister forces of authority and violence

By Andrew Durbin

Review - 12 Apr 2018 - from FRIEZE.com

 

After Cosima von Bonin’s extensive European traveling retrospective “The Lazy Susan Series” ended at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne in 2011, the artist went into a self imposed pre-retirement, only to be interrupted by another extensive show at MUMOK, Vienna in 2014.

Then she had enough!

That is until 2016 when von Bonin’s decades’ long fascination with the deep-sea was brought to the fore in a traveling sculptural show, “Who’s Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea?” From Glasgow International, to New York’s Sculpture Center, and in 2017 Oakville Galleries, Ontario, von Bonin’s cast of oceanographic characters rippled with mystery, fun and contradiction.

WHAT IF IT BARKS? featuring AUTHORITY PURÉE, von Bonin’s first full scale installation at Petzel’s 18th Street location (her eighth show with the gallery), is marked by more curious incongruities. The artist’s marine motif is updated and extended in the gallery space to a sweeping fish farm: A group of polyester shark heads lurk in the open tops of wooden barrels—each jaw smirks, gnarling a soft toy rocket. Robed mackerel in synchronized display appear alongside bass-guitar and ukulele toting piscine beings, accented by 1970s-style short-board surfboards. But life is not all aquatic: Suspended from the ceiling an open, oversized cat food can exhales contiguous puffs. Printed on the side in white lettering are the words, “AUTHORITY PURÉE”. Von Bonin’s signature ‘rags’ or cloth paintings dangle from the gallery walls and dive deeper into nautical spheres.

Cosima von Bonin was born in Mombasa, Kenya in 1962. Her work has been exhibited widely throughout the United States and internationally. Solo exhibitions include MUMOK, Vienna (2014); Artipelag, Sweden (2013); Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis (2011); Arnolfini, Bristol (2011); Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva (2011); Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2011); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2010); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007); documenta 12, Kassel (2007).

The foundations of Cosima von Bonin’s work lie in the performativity of things that have a transformative quality. Like George Brecht she understands art as a poetic act and a social activity. For Brecht each object could be an event, and each event could have the character of an object. Cosima von Bonin stages her objects while holding back a lot of information about the meaning of things. Her intentions keep slipping away. But once you can let go the determination to clearly understand, and bend that urge into a more relaxed relationship with the work, you can become her companion on a journey by setting off without an ultimate destination.

Some foggy notions.

CvB’s body is close-by but most of the time invisible.

In humorism, or humoralism, the doctrine of the four temperaments, the body is not seen as a closed unit, but functions as an open system that is constantly in contact with its environment.

CvB is never finished, never completed, is continually built, created, and builds and creates other bodies. She breaks out of her boundary like the grotesque body does in the work of Mikhail Bakhtin.

CvB is like a foggy cloud, a phantom that transforms now and then in an extra-terrestrial plop sculpture descending from the skies, like a UFO sucking up everything that is around her.

She becomes a figure of unruly social exchange. CvB is hiding, not behind but inside her friends. They become her for a moment performing an ectoplasmatic quatsch play with objects: airy nonsense with meaning hiding inside somewhere.

—Arnold Mosselman

Performativity

Performative Utterance

A: Cosima von Bonin, what’s on your mind at the moment?

B: Late capitalism, robots and social isolation. As usual.

A: Uh, that sounds very dystopic.

B: If you see it from a distance, it’s less frightening.

A: Late capitalism?

B: The Fatigue Empire show, for example, celebrated slothfulness, and was a reaction in a way to late capitalism and its constant need to have people function, to have them work on themselves, to be creative and to handle creativity profitably. Even losers are not allowed to be losers anymore but have to focus on permanent self-improvement. The Fatigue Empire represented an opposing notion that wanted to champion the exhaustion and fatigue that everyone of course experiences.

A: Your new show is inhabited by a lot of sea creatures.

B: I’ve got robed mackerels and killer whales and shark dustbins and ukuleles and buoys and surfboards.

I stole the idea for the robed mackerels from the decorator crabs. Give them a pearl necklace, or some holiday pom poms or anything else of that kind, and they decorate themselves with it. Accessories are Life for those crustaceans.

I’ve got lots of chains and a giant cat food can that is smoking. Those are not from the sea.

A: Do you have a special connection to the sea?

B: I come from the sea.

A: You mean, you lived by the sea.

B: No, I come from the sea.

A: So the mackerels and sharks and cephalopods and crustaceans are your friends?

B: All creatures are my friends, hyenas and frogs are my friends, too.

A: So that´s a lot of friends then.

B: Un million d´amis.

A: How do you come up with the themes and topics of your work?

B: Everything comes to me while I watch British shows and movies, listening to music and things like that. Or I steal it somewhere. I mostly sleep.

A: But you created a lot of art, your shows are always opulent and remind me of giant department stores.

B: Yes, I do that between naps.

A: Impressive.

B: I try to avoid all that career stuff. But then somehow things squeeze in, like friends that look for you when they haven´t heard of you for some time. And then it makes sense to get up.

I’ve got this sentence of Mike Kelley’s on the wall opposite my bed so I immediately know what to do when I wake up: “It's not a kind of sense, it's a kind of sense-making, like we'll take this, we'll take this, this leads me to this, this leads me to this and then I have to figure some kind of structure for that and that's the art of it..." I'm quite good at deciding or knowing what is good and what is garbage.

A: You still live in Cologne, where you started your career with artists like Martin Kippenberger, Michael Krebber and Kai Althoff.

B: Yes.

We are not many, most of my friends left to go to Berlin or New York a long time ago. The ones that stayed are friends of top-notch quality though. The nice thing about Cologne is that nobody watches us doing our things. I like that.

I have a small garden here. Green parrots come and visit, they escaped from the zoo. Recently I had new stupid gardeners come to cut some bushes and whilst I was out for a minute, they cut down everything. A massacre. All the bushes, and the wild grass that I dug out somewhere. I am now rebuilding everything, which will take ages to groom, so I´m in the middle of Cologne and regrowing the garden. The parrots still come, and I’ve got salamanders and toads and lots of insects and sometimes two or three human friends come and we have a barbecue or just sit there in the green. Why move?

A: You are surrounded by friends it seems.

B: It sounds like that, but it’s all very unedited and relaxed. It´s not Berlin or New York, it´s Cologne. I additionally have some friends that are sort of imaginary. I love Olaf the Snowman from the Disney Movie for example. I consider him a friend of mine.

A: Why is that?

B: He has no skull or bones, just like me.

A: I See. Thank you very much for the interview.

B: It was my pleasure.

Authority Purée

I've been swimming in the ocean recently. A small shoal of fish was there and I passed rocks and plants and bigger fish crossed my way and it was elemental and peaceful and truly magical and somehow extraterrestrial and I immediately wanted to stay there. Forever. Do you know that feeling when you wake up and feel unadaptable, stranded and useless. One of these days…you think to yourself: "Don´t make such a spectacle of yourself. Get out of bed immediately. Go to the plaza where they serve authority purée. Suck it up." Cosima von Bonin brings lots of different creatures into being, some are from the sea, some are dogs, some derive from cartoons or from the movies. Some of them are limp, exhausted, floppy and worn out. Others are rather flexible, and a few of them are carefree like surfers. This time, amongst them is a guest. A creature by Renate Müller, legendary toy designer from Sonneberg. It is a rhino made from burlap and leather that can stand every tantrum of a child, every outburst of tears, it is as patient as can be. It is a therapeutic toy from the 1970s. I guess the other creatures need such a beast from time to time. The rhino can be kicked, clasped, you can lean against it or pet it of course. It takes it all as it comes. It comes from another world, a world of unconditional love. Such a world cannot be found at every corner, but it exists somewhere, just like the deep sea. Let’s pretend that this text was written in bed, in a slumberous mood, between vague dreams and deep sleep.

Here is a poem from there:

Whale, whale, mackerel

Sharks bite rockets

Fill your pocket

With the finest enemies

Bring them to the deepest seas

See us lose our sense of duty

Hear the guitars fade away

See these things of strangest beauty

Great authority purée!

—Claus Richter


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