Dutch Entry 59th Venice Biennale
melanie bonajo (lowercase, they / their) is a Dutch artist, filmmaker, certified sexological bodyworker and somatic sex coach. The new work, specially commissioned for the Biennale Arte 2022, is part of their ongoing research into the current status of intimacy in our increasingly alienating, commodity-driven world. For bonajo, touch can be a powerful remedy for the modern epidemic of loneliness. bonajo worked with a curatorial team consisting of Orlando Maaike Gouwenberg, Geir Haraldseth and Soraya Pol. In collaboration with scenographer Théo Demans, bonajo created an immersive video installation that will draw visitors into a perspective-altering environment. The visitors’ sensory awakening will help them to reflect on the meaning of touch and intimacy in relation to their own bodies. bonajo says:
“With this project we want to reprioritise the body as a vehicle for connection and safety, cultivating touch and friendship as a form of activism. Feeling is a form of intelligence; thinking through touch.”
The choice of the jury
A broad-based international jury selected bonajo from a long list of artists and curators who had applied to take part in earlier versions of the biennale. Those selected were invited to submit an overall plan. After the plans were presented to the jury, it was unanimous in determining that melanie bonajo would be representing the Netherlands. In making its choice, the jury considered, among other things, the quality of the work and the impact it will have on the international stage of the Venice Biennale. The jury is confident that bonajo can deliver a presentation that impresses and inspires.
Members of the jury for the Dutch contribution to the 2022 Venice Biennale are: Kate Bush (curator Tate Modern), Stijn Huijts (director Bonnefantenmuseum), Hicham Khalidi (director Jan van Eyck Academy), Franziska Nori (director Frankfurter Kunstverein), Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi (curator MoMA – Museum of Modern Art, New York), Fatos Üstek (director Liverpool Biennale), Rieke Vos (curator Het HEM), and non-voting chairperson Eelco van der Lingen (director Mondriaan Fund).
Location of the Dutch pavilion in 2022
For the 59th edition, the Mondriaan Fund decided to break with tradition and present the Dutch entry at a new location, the Chiesetta della Misericordia of Art Events, a deconsecrated 13th-century church in Cannaregio. The Mondriaan Fund invited Estonia to make use of the Rietveld Pavilion for the 2022 Venice Biennale. The Mondriaan Fund officially handed over the Rietveld Pavilion to Estonia in November 2021. Director Eelco van der Lingen is delighted:
“An exciting artist in an exciting location. The Chiesetta della Misericordia is a splendid building in the middle of the city. I am looking forward to seeing how that relates to the splendid work of melanie bonajo.”