Between the power drills, leather tassels and saucy builders' humour, Italian artist Monica Bonvicini lets sadomasochism hang heavy in the air. But the audience frustratingly ends up neither master nor slave
A Murano glass strap-on gleams under fluorescent light, in a play area with the gear all waiting: chains and black leather, a dangling noose and a body harness slung from the ceiling. I have been in S&M clubs like this, and so too has Monica Bonvicini. Since the 1990s such places have provided inspiration for her art. So too has the building site, the power tool and hardware store. As fetishistic as it is fun, muted as it is aggressive, her art is a kind of invitation. Her Baltic exhibition is a series of rumpus rooms, dark corners and sudden shocks. What are we waiting for?
But where have all the kinksters gone? Perhaps they have taken the advice given by the sculpture Bonvicini made for the 2012 London Olympics. The outdoor sculpture, in huge mirrored and LED-lit letters, just said “RUN”.