Cosima von Bonin

Cosima von Bonin
Fondorientierte Ausstattung, 2002

In her collaborations with other artists there is evidence of an approach that contradicts the expected image of autonomous, inspired artistic individualism. Her open homage and references to exemplary artists including Bas Jan Ader, Poul Gernes, Blinky Palermo and André Cadere confirm her preference for melancholic, ephemeral artistry.

The fact that Poul Gernes once built a ship in order simply to burn it on the open sea, and that Bas Jan Ader set off alone in a small sailing boat in 1975 in order to cross the Atlantic in 60 days, a project that ended in his vanishing without trace, allows Cosima von Bonin’s “skerry cruiser”, stranded in all pomp and elegance here in Graz, to appear not only as a metaphor for unfettered proliferation and boundless world domination but, above all, as a symbol of failure, of misadventure, perhaps even of hubris. It is also significant that the skerry cruiser, developed around 1900 by the young Finn Estlander, a racing boat tuned with utter rationality according to hedonistic considerations and sailing purism, is best suited to rough water and offers a minimal and thus at the same time sensitive sailing experience. It also represents a form of luxury not only of a financial nature but also constituting the very pinnacle of refinement. In its every aspect, even though it completely fulfils a very precise purpose, the skerry cruiser is an object that is actually superfluous. The skerry cruiser is Cosima von Bonin’s greatest single item to date.


Failure and breaks within various systems are at the core of Cosima von Bonin’s interest. Equally important are the material and thematic transformation of known images and shapes. This becomes visible in giant mushrooms of different sizes covered with fabric. The mushrooms are amongst the most characteristic appearances in the artist’s work. They keep reappearing in different shows, frequently, acting as road signs guiding the observer through the complex interdependencies of her installations. Cosima von Bonin pushes further the ambivalent meaning of the mushroom as both protective umbrella and carrier of hallucinogenic substances or as masculine symbol by subjecting it to a metamorphosis, recreating it as a soft and quiet carrier of secrets. Usually, they grow in groups and thus also refer to the inclusion of her artistic environment without any outward explicit explanation. In the face of the absurd shifting of dimensions, one might remember the story of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by the English mathematician Lewis Carroll, where Alice manipulates the size of her body by eating magic mushroom pieces. In this respect, Bonin’s mushrooms in their pure white materiality receive aural autonomy. Moreover, with the super-dimensionality of her works she refers to today’s shifts between natural and technical limits, accelerated ecological and economical processes, and expresses doubts regarding unquestioning belief in progress in order to develop different utopian models.

Her own special form of globalisation is shown in her complex social network, as for instance in the case of the musicians in the show. In this way a text by Dirk von Lowtzows (Tocotronic) is included in the catalogue, whilst Justus Köhncke, in the title of his latest CD “Was ist Musik” (What is music), refers to the fact that music is life and community. With his cover version of Münchner Freiheit’s song “Du bist nicht allein” (You are not alone) he offers a possible response to Bas Jan Ader’s “please don’t leave me”. In her catalogue Cosima von Bonin covers Yves St. Laurent’s Layout, whose sentence “I was born with a nervous breakdown” is focused on by Dirk von Lowtzow. The fact that she sews rather than paints her pictures is to be interpreted as a reaction to Blinky Palermo and Sigmar Polke, reaching beyond the not be neglected female-specific aspect. However, she takes things further than the mere use of deco fabrics as picture carriers, developing her sujets in her own complicated language. This also has the effect of including the observer if everyday life in society is not reflected by means of a Mercedes star or a shirt, but rather by the artist confronting us in her show with an imaginative luxurious version of the rear seat equipment of a Mercedes.

Cosima von Bonin was born in 1962 in Mombassa and lives and works in Cologne.

* Condition: Very Good-Fine – All care is taken to provide accurate condition details of used books, photos available on request.

Cosima von Bonin - Fondorientierte Ausstattung
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