In her work, Melanie Bonajo examines the paradoxes inherent to ideas of comfort with a strong sense for community, equality, and body-politics. Through her videos, performances, photographs and installations, she studies subjects related to how technological advances and commoditybased pleasures increase feelings of alienation, removing a sense of belonging in an individual. Captivated by concepts of the divine, Bonajo explores the spiritual emptiness of her generation, examines peoples’ shifting relationship with nature and tries to understand existential questions by reflecting on our domestic situation, ideas around classification, concepts of home, gender and attitudes towards value.
Melanie Bonajo studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and completed residencies at the Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunst in Amsterdam (2009-10) and at ISCP in New York (2014).
Melanie Bonajo’s work has been shown in international exhibitions throughout Europe; recently in a.o. Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2019, Performance at Do Disturb Festival), Guangzhou Triennial (2018-2019, Progress vs Sunsets), CN, a solo exhibition (2019, Progress vs. Sunsets) in Kunsthalle Lingen, ‘Creatures Made to Measure. Animals and Contemporary Design’ in Design Museum, Ghent (2019), BE and Museum Marta Herford, DE (2018), ‘Vrijheid – vijftig Nederlandse kernkunstwerken sinds 1968’ – curated by Hans den Hartog Jager in Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle, NL (2019), ‘Blind Faith’, curated by Julienne Lorz in Haus der Kunst, München 2018), the Night Soil Trilogy was on view in Manifesta 12, Palermo (2018), Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art, curated by Katerina Gregos (2018, Progress vs Regress), Kunstsaele Berlin, curated by Ellen Blumenstein (2018) and ‘Anima Mundi’ in Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, curated by Hans van der Ham (2018, film Matrix Botanica). Her film Night Soil – Economy of Love will be shown in the show ‘Be Fragile! Be Brave!’, curated by Rebeka Põlsdam, Pori Museum, FI (2019).
Melanie Bonajo was nominated for the Amsterdamprijs voor de Kunst 2018 and the prestigious Nam June Paik Award 2018. Her work has recently been acquired by Frac, Ile-de-France.
Melanie Bonajo had her first international solo exhibition in FOAM, The Netherlands, in 2016. The Frankfurter Kunstverein followed with a major solo exhibition in 2017: ‘Single Mother Songs from the End of Nature’ . In 2018, Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht presented her solo exhibition ‘The death of Melanie Bonajo: how to unmodernize yourself and become an elf in 12 steps’. Melanie Bonajo’s film ‘Progress vs. Regress’, commissioned by Hacking Habitat Utrecht, forms the first part of her recent trilogy. For the second part of this trilogy, ‘Progress vs. Sunsets’, Melanie Bonajo was shortlisted for the Prix de Rome 2017.
In 2016, Melanie Bonajo was shortlisted for the 57th Venice Biennale. Her film Night Soil—Economy of Love, awarded for the IFFR Tiger Awards (2016), was produced and screened by Schunck, Heerlen (2015), and shown at a.o. Museum Arnhem, AKINCI, Amsterdam (2015) and EYE Film Museum, Amsterdam (2016). Melanie Bonajo presented the Night Soil trilogy in her first solo exhibition in the Netherlands at FOAM, Amsterdam. The Night Soil Trilogy together with the installations has been acquired by Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht.
Bonajo’s work has been exhibited and performed in international art institutions, such as Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2019), Guangzhou Triennial (2018-2019), Kunsthalle Lingen (2019), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2018); Martha Herford Museum, Herford (2018); Tate Modern, London (performance, 2017); EYE Film Museum, Amsterdam (2016); STUK, Leuven; Rogaland Kunstsenter, Stavanger, Norway; De Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam; Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw; the Moscow Biennale; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; Fondazione Prada, Milan; PPOW Gallery and PS1/MoMA, New York. In the USA, her work has been acquired by the 21C Museum Hotels, Kentucky. Her films have been screened at Kunsthalle Basel (2016), and numerous festivals such as Lowlands (Summer 2018), Pinkpop, International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) and the Berlinale. In 2012, Bonajo initiated the collective Genital International, which tackles subjects around feminism, participation, equality, our Earth: ‘Politics beyond Polarity’ and ‘Revolution through Relaxation’. Melanie Bonajo has contributed to several art magazines, was creative editor of Capricious Magazine, and curated various shows, such as the QQC Performance Festival about pop music in visual arts at the Paradiso, Amsterdam. She published several books, the most recent being: Matrix Botanica, numero 1 – Non-Human Persons, designed by Experimental Jetset and published by Capricious Publishing (New York). In 2013, she released an album with her band ZaZaZoZo (in collaboration with Joseph Marzolla) called Inua.