Monica Bonvicini

Hot Like Hell, 2021
Texts by Christina Végh, Colin Lang

Kunsthalle Bielefeld

Publisher: Snoeck.

Softcover, 24 x 31,5 cm, 224 pages, English / German


The publication brings together two distinct series of works on paper. It features new drawings of the b/w series Hurricanes and Other Catastrophes, an ongoing project spanning more than a decade with the artist continuously chronicling the destruction left behind after natural disasters. The book also includes NEVER TIRE—a series in color reckoning with the political and emotional upheaval of 2020.


With writing holding an important place in Bonvicini’s practice and many of her larger-scale works being based on phrases, lyrics and quotes, NEVER TIRE is emblematic of the artist’s enquiry into literature and poetry, as well as the counterculture legacy of graffiti and protest signs. Created in the spirit of outrage felt by many during 2020—a year of unprecedented upheaval—it plays on the aesthetics of protest and the urge for justice made visible by movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. The drawings themselves create black, dark grey and pink nebulous landscapes, in which motifs of mesh, chains and lines of text emerge. In contrast to this indefinite background, the sentences strike startlingly real and present. Many messages throughout NEVER TIRE originate from A Lover’s Discourse by Roland Barthes, as well as reimagined quotes and fragments by Judith Butler, Natalie Diaz, Soraya Chemaly, Andrea Dworkin and the memoirs of Philip Johnson. After finding the appropriate passages to be included in the paintings, Bonvicini reverses them, cuts them shorter or changes the order of the words. At time unrecognizable, these quotes attain a new and poetical dimension, as with “Weep Me Crude,” “Power Joy Humor & Resistance,” and “I Never Tire.” This textual component of the works collects and relays a specific dictionary: a set of connotations that the viewer can comprehend and relate to.


The series of large drawings Hurricanes and Other Catastrophes is an archive of black and white landscapes, in which loss and destruction constitute the horizon. Initiated by Bonvicini following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the project documents the ongoing ruin of houses and architectures following natural disasters—it focuses on the intensity of these environmental consequences in the last few years and how it impacts the present. Visually striking, these portraits of destruction in the aftermath of storms and wildfires are a direct response to the increasingly alarming weather changes brought on by global warming. The year of 2020, beyond the worldwide disruption of the pandemic, has also proven to be a year of record-breaking hurricane seasons clearly exasperated by the climate crises.  And in the last two decades alone, more than 7000 major disaster events were recorded globally, ranging from heatwaves to floods, droughts, and forest fires, claiming 1.23 million lives and affecting 4.2 billion people. It underscores both the human and economic impact of unmitigated climate change, causing 2.97 trillion dollars in damage since the year 2000. Last year over 10 million acres were burnt, resulting in 18,000 built structures, many of which were homes, decimated by the flames. Bonvicini calls to attention this contemporary devastation, providing the viewer with a poignant meditation on anthropogenic climate damage and the disruption it causes to ecosystems, livelihoods and even the most intimate of settings—the domestic dwellings.


“What is consistently fascinating about Monica Bonvicini’s way of working is her attitude, her punk ethos and her sensibility, which is of course also a form of resistance.” (Colin Lang)