Monica Bonvicini, Liliana Moro, and Grazia Toderi at De Appel, Amsterdam (1999)

R. J. Preece
artdesigncafé - art | 15 September 2009
This review first appeared in World Sculpture News, 5(4), pages 74-5 in 1999.

Monica Bonvicini, Liliana Moro, and Grazia Toderi—all from Italy—exhibited seven installations raising questions about gender relationships, architecture, and societal structures; and the relationship between adulthood and childhood as it pertains to history and contemporary events.

Liliana Moro, 39, who lives and works in Milan, displayed three installations, La Fidanzata di Zorro (Zorro’s Fiance) (1999) consists of a black line drawing of a woman whose mouth is covered by someone’s hand. Her uncertainty is juxtaposed against a miniature glass chair in the space—reflecting fragility, secrets, truth, and power. De Clowns (1999) is a room of 20 red pencils drawings, including clowns, elephants, and seals—a fun child-like room which sharply contrasts with her third installation.

Especially made for De Appel, Liliana Moro created an installation dedicated to Anne Frank, the Jewish teenager whose diary was written in a secret hiding place during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam. Entitled Achterhuis (Secret Annex) (1999), and intended “as a symbol of devotion to life,” Moro covered the floor with carpets in a red painted room, One framed image is on the wall—a masked clown playing a drum—juxtaposing the implied noise of childhood with the necessity for quiet under those horrific circumstances; the mask reflecting a distinction between outward appearance and interior feelings.

Grazia Toderi, 36, also living and working in Milan, presented two video installations, Il Fiore delle 1001 Notte (1998), which was inspired by Pasolini’s The Arabian Nights set in Baghdad, and Le Orbite del Principe Otto (The Orbit of Price Otto) (1998). For the latter, she presented a dialogue between King Ludwig of Bavaria and his bother Prince Otto from the movie Ludwig, directed by Luchino Visconti. She added video of a toy-like castle set in a star-filled sky, juxtaposing the idealism of childhood with the perversity of war and hierarchy.

Monica Bonvicini, 34, who lives and works in Berlin and Los Angeles, displayed two video installations dealing with women in relation to historical structures and architecture. Set amidst construction scraps, Destroy She Said (1998) consists of projected film clips, including those from existing Italian, French and German films. She consciously pulled them from their original meaning, and reconstructs a new narrative of women in architectural and interiors spaces, with their “backs to the wall.” One looks like she is under intense questioning, another cries, another fires a gun in emotional distress.

However, Monica Bonvicini’s second pieces if far more sensational. Entitled Wallfuckin’ (1995), “the essential question is: what happens when a woman relates to architecture with an ‘I-don’t’-give-a-fuck-attitude?’ The masturbating woman in the video is not so much rebelling against man, but more directly against an historical structure that has determined her present condition.” For Bonvicini, the artistic representation means a video of the artist bumping against a protruding wall, next to a protruding wall set in the installation-room—behind a closed door. In this way, viewers had a bizarre opportunity to mimic the sensational video, if they decided to bump in motion and make their life more like art.