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Museum Ludwig Presents Cosima von Bonin Exhibition

Cosima von Bonin’s (*1962) exhibition at the Museum Ludwig is the final chapter of an exhibition series connecting four European cities. Conceived as a work in progress – similar yet totally different in each location -, the cycle began in Rotterdam, continued to unfold in Bristol and then in Geneva. The cycle ends with a big bang where it all began: in Cologne, the artist’s home base. Cologne thus forms the final “loop” in this circular exhibition concept, as indicated in its title. Lazy Susan is a colloquial term referring to a rotating platter centrally placed on a dining table – and particularly common in Chinese Restaurants – enabling easy access to different dishes. The choice of a household accessory that bears a female name is no coincidence. Just as significant is the idea of laziness, a recurring motif in Cosima von Bonin’s work. The central new piece of the LAZY SUSAN SERIES, AMATEUR DRAMATICS (2010), was co-produced by the participating institutions and takes the form of the eponymous Lazy Susan: a large rotating disc that looks like a mix between carousel and presentation platform. The artist placed various previously created works from her repertoire on the disc, including the PURPLE SLOTH RABBIT (2010) – a large reclining rabbit figure with the word SLOTH embroidered underneath its feet. With irony and provocation, Cosima von Bonin thus makes laziness – simultaneously a vice and a dream in today’s times in which every minute counts – the leitmotif of an exhibition cycle that has more to do with manic production and hyperactivity than with idleness and indolence.

Cosima von Bonin, 2010-2011, installation view, Arnolfini, Bristol 2011 (c) Courtesy Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne/Berlin

For the Museum Ludwig’s vast skylight gallery, Bonin created a spectacular installation that is simultaneously a clever exhibition design. Six oversized tables ranging in height from 2.7 to 5.4 meters fill the space and offer various presentation levels, with the table surfaces as well as the space beneath used for display. Here, the artist actively incorporates the special features of this high-ceilinged hall with its suspended gallery into her work, offering the visitor a completely new and unaccustomed viewing perspective. Across five rooms and various media settings, the exhibition continues to unfold outside the south entrance of the museum, with the monumental TAGEDIEB (2010) a long-nosed – and hence obviously dishonest – Pinocchio sitting on a towering umpire’s chair, acting as both sculpture and streetlight. Altogether, the exhibition unites over 70 works, among them numerous new productions and a few rarely exhibited pieces from private Cologne-based collections.

Cosima von Bonin does not focus exclusively on a specific technique or style. However, she often privileges soft materials and embroidered textiles, which not only summon associations with stereotypical female pastimes, but also express the apparent lassitude of her cast of characters. The artist picks up on a host of references and associations – from Kippenberger to Disney – and mixes them all together, reminiscent of a DJ’s sampling technique. –

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