WHAT IF THEY BARK?
Cosima von Bonin is a conceptual artist working across painting and sculpture. Von Bonin is a collector—of found objects, materials, images, stories, and references that she assembles with irreverence and dark humor. While in her early paintings the artist used found fabrics to compose scenes populated with beloved Looney Toons and Disney characters, in more recent sculpture installations she focuses on more generalized myths, historical figures, and pop culture references, from Pinocchio to Jacques Lacan. For many years, she created plush, colorful ocean creatures, a series of works that talks about the human destruction of the natural world found underwater.
Von Bonin brings her ongoing work WHAT IF THEY BARK? (2022) to the High Line, installing a group of anthropomorphic fish sculptures above the park’s iconic 10th Avenue Square. Assembled like a military band ensemble, the fish wear theatrical costumes, play musical instruments, and hold checkered missiles. Featured this past year on the façade of the Central Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, von Bonin’s installation continues the artist’s long-running interest in marine life. This humorous composition recalls the statue arrangement of ancient Greek temples, but instead of gods and heroes here the artist places sea creatures on land interacting with one another and doing human activities such as playing music. The figures adorn the top of the railing of the Sunken Overlook as if playing a concert for visitors resting on the seating steps below, adding a playful element to the striking view up 10th Avenue.
About Cosima von Bonin
Cosima von Bonin (b. 1962, Mombasa, Kenya) lives and works in Cologne, Germany. A major figure of contemporary art from Germany, von Bonin has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions including CCS Bard, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York (2018); Sculpture Center, New York, New York (2016); MUMOK, Vienna, Austria (2014); Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany (2011); Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland (2011); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California (2007). Additionally, von Bonin has participated in group exhibitions such as Mae, House of Gaga, Cologne, Germany (2022); There Is Always One Direction, de la Cruz Collection, Miami, Florida (2021); Sustainable Museum: Art and Environment, Museum of Contemporary Art, Busan, South Korea (2021); La mer Imaginaire, Villa Carmignac, Porquerolles Island, France (2020); and Play Time, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes, Rennes, France (2014). Von Bonin has participated in major international exhibitions include the 59th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2022); Glasgow International, Glasgow, Scotland (2016); and Documenta XII, Kassel, Germany (2007). Her work is included in many notable collections worldwide, including Tate Britain, London, England; Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri; and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany.