Cosima von Bonin

Cosima von Bonin, THE BONIN/OSWALD EMPIRE'S NOTHING #5, 2010.

First Midwestern exhibition by acclaimed conceptual artist

Posted by Liam Otten April 5, 2011

Based in Cologne, Germany, conceptual artist Cosima von Bonin is among the most influential yet elusive artists of her generation. At once playful, seductive and satirical, her wide-ranging creative practice interweaves sculpture, installation, video, textiles, performance and electronic music with a diverse network of collaborators. In her choice of materials (fabric, stuffed animals, slick minimalist sculptural objects), scale (often oversized) and eclectic subject matter (fatigue, cartoon characters, luxury lifestyle branding, pop culture), von Bonin creatively juxtaposes personal biography and art historical lineages while critically alluding to more sobering themes of global consumerism, gender inequality and social apathy.

This summer, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum will present Cosima von Bonin: Character Appropriation, the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the American Midwest. Organized by associate curator Meredith Malone, the exhibition will survey the last decade of von Bonin’s career. Inspired by the Kemper Art Museum’s acquisition of ROCKSTARS (CHARACTER APPROPRIATION) (2003), an early example of the artist’s signature textile “paintings,” the exhibition also will present examples of von Bonin’s architectural sculptures, outsized stuffed animals, and her latest works that embrace themes of idleness and mental and physical fatigue. Several exhausted stuffed animals will be accompanied by soundtracks composed by von Bonin’s collaborator, electronic music pioneer Moritz von Oswald.

According to Malone, “it is impossible not to be entranced with Cosima von Bonin’s playful works. Her huge, floppy stuffed animals, outsized rockets, and large-scale textile ‘paintings’ exude a certain seductiveness and absurdity though one shot through with sardonic wit. Cosima von Bonin: Character Appropriation explores the artist’s multidisciplinary practice and her ongoing engagement with complex social issues, including a rising social apathy infiltrating today’s networked society. I am thrilled to be bringing the work of such an engaging and internationally renowned contemporary artist to St. Louis.”

Exhibition Brochure

Character Appropriation will be accompanied by an illustrated brochure featuring an essay by Malone as well as a new installment in a series of scripted conversations between von Bonin and Daffy Duck, written by von Bonin’s longtime collaborator Dirk von Lowtzow, a Berlin-based musician and art critic.

About the artist

Born in 1962 in Mombasa, Kenya, von Bonin lives and works in Cologne. In 2010, the Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria, presented The Fatigue Empire, a comprehensive one-person exhibition of the artist’s recent works. It was shortly followed by von Bonin’s Lazy Susan Series, A Rotating Exhibition, with venues at the Witte de With Rotterdam (October 2010 to January 2011); Arnolfini Bristol (February to April 2011); MAMCO, Geneva (June to September 2011); and Museum Ludwig, Cologne (July to October 2011).

Von Bonin’s first major U.S. survey, Roger and Out, opened in 2007 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Other institutional one-person exhibitions have taken place at Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (2004); Kunstverein Hamburg, Germany (2001); Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany (2000); and Kunsthalle St. Gallen, Switzerland (1999). In addition, von Bonin has participated in group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; Les Abbatoirs in Toulouse, France; and Documenta XII in Kassel, Germany, among many others.

Her work is included in many notable collections worldwide, including the Tate Britain in London; the Museum für Neue Kunst im ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany; and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.

Image credit

Cosima von Bonin, THE BONIN / OSWALD EMPIRE’S NOTHING #05 (CVB’S SANS CLOTHING. MOST RISQUÉ. I’D BE DELIGHTED. & MVO’S ORANGE HERMITCRAB ON OFF-WHITE TABLE NEXT TO PINK TABLE SONG), 2010. Various materials, 29 1/8 x 29 1/8 x 58 11/16" (white table), 43 15/16 x 25 1/4 x 51 1/4" (pink table), and 19 3/4 x 235/8 x 39 7/16" approx (crab). Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne. Photo: Markus Tretter.