BY Monica Bonvicini in One Takes | 03 AUG 11
Featured in
Issue 2

Monica Bonvicini: ‘Das Ding’

Choose a single object of special significance from your working or living environment

BY Monica Bonvicini in One Takes | 03 AUG 11

Photograph: Elizabeth Skadden

Everyone agreed to come in the afternoon to the action at Antrepo 4 directly on the Bosphorus. The curator, assistants, office co-workers, friends, photographers, acquaintances and strangers. The large glass cube of my work Stairway to Hell (2003) was finished, and I was going to smash it to pieces. The Thing I used to do that has been hanging on a wall in my Berlin home ever since alongside one of my first editions, a Ladys Hammer from the year 2000. They go well together.

For one entire summer, I put my bed under the Thing and right against the window in the hopeful yet equally absurd belief that I would wake up earlier in the morning if the sun shone directly on my bed. My boyfriend at the time found it eerie to lie in the bed with the Thing and the Ladys Hammer over his head. He asked me to hang them somewhere else. But since all of the available nails in my apartment were already occupied, and since I knew that the Thing and the Ladys Hammer would never fall down, they stayed put. The Thing doesnt hang right on the nail; its wedged against the Ladys Hammer. But the balance is good its already lasted like that for eight years.

The first time I beat one of my works to pieces with a hammer was in 2001 at a Vienna gallery. It was two oclock in the morning, I was alone, except for some loud music. I felt nervous and afraid about remodelling my so-beautifully-built work into a pile of scraps. I hadnt told the gallerists about my plan just that I wanted to spend the evening alone with my work. When they opened the gallery the next day, they thought that someone had broken in and destoyed the art work.

When I arrived for the Istanbul action, the Thing was presented to me in a small ceremony with typical Turkish cordiality. Originally, I had requested a large hammer, but the attending glass specialist was not thrilled about the idea; instead I was given a handmade one-of-a-kind: the handle of a hammer, a giant steel screw and beautifully sanded wood. A cross between a hammer and an ice pick.

So I started smashing the glass. It became an intimate and loud affair with yelling, applause and photographs… The Thing fulfilled its purpose very well. I was really amazed that the tip of the screw was beaten flat at the end. And at the end of the action, the Thing was adorned with a dedication and the signatures of a few friends. I took it to Berlin and hung it on the wall. My beautiful Thing.

The Thing things there now.

Translated by Jennifer Allen

Monica Bonvicinis work can be seen at the 54th Venice Biennale, Künstlerhaus Vienna and, from September on, in a solo show at Centro de arte contemporáneo in Málaga.