Activities

Title and first images of Dutch entry to Venice Biennale revealed

‘Big Spoon’, film-still van ‘When the body says Yes’. Met dank aan de kunstenaar.

“Feeling is a form of intelligence; thinking through touch.” – melanie bonajo

‘When the body says Yes’ is a new immersive video installation by melanie bonajo, Dutch artist, filmmaker, sexological bodyworker and somatic sex coach and educator. The installation, commissioned by the Mondriaan Fund for the Biennale Arte 2022 (23 April – 27 November), is part of the artist’s 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.

About the project, bonajo says: “Love is not learned in isolation and, if you have felt it, someone else has probably felt it too. We created a collective spell in the form of a pleasure positive camp, an eco-erotic queer eros, celebrating our kin through skinship. A place of productive chaos and care, where we practiced touch tutorials, set boundaries, gave and received consent, drank our own poison at the trigger bar, did weird therapies and acknowledged feelings as valid.

We brought together a group of international gender queer people, where many have a bicultural identity and we expanded on sexuality beyond the western discourse, what our genitals mean to us and others, self-expression as a healing modality, the way our body matrix sends and receives information about closeness and touch, and how that is embodied in different language structures. Do you know the sensational dimensions of your No. How do you feel when your body says Yes?” 

The installation will draw visitors into a sense-altering environment and help them to reflect on the meaning of touch and intimacy in relation to their own bodies. The scenography will create an atmosphere of softness and sensuality; a cushioned refuge from the outside world where visitors can discover their own ‘touch language’.

bonajo: “Let’s move away from our disembodied zoom fatigue, this scenography is a sensual invitation to emerge our bodies into a pluffy pillow pleasure island. Embrace your inner sloth. We celebrate the beauty of our own softness, our senses, the portal to the present. Playing with the social conditioning of proximity and distance between bodies, the spaciousness allows for kindness, sensuality, surrender, and playfulness. It is essentially a cuddle space which centralizes the clitoris as the epicentre of social design and a place for worship. Sponsored by consent and your own oxytocin.” 

‘When the body says Yes’ is curated by Orlando Maaike Gouwenberg, Geir Haraldseth and Soraya Pol, and the installation is designed by scenographer Théo Demans. For the upcoming edition, the Mondriaan Fund has 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 has meanwhile invited Estonia to make use of the Rietveld Pavilion for the 2022 Venice Biennale.