Melanie Bonajo

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 commodity-based 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.


Bonajo’s work has been exhibited and performed in international art institutions, such as Tate Modern, London; EYE Film Museum, Amsterdam; STUK, Louvain; de Bond, Bruges; Rogaland Kunstsenter, Stavanger, Norway; De Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam; Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; 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 International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) and the Berlinale. In 2012, she initiated the collective Genital International, which tackles subjects around feminism, participation, equality, our Earth: ‘Politics beyond Polarity’ and ‘Revolution through Relaxation’.


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 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.


Melanie Bonajo (Heerlen, NL, 1978) 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). Her film Progress vs. Regress, commissioned by Hacking Habitat Utrecht, is the first part of her recent trilogy. For the second part of this trilogy called Progress vs. Sunsets – Re-formulating the Nature Documentary, Melanie Bonajo has been shortlisted for Prix de Rome 2017. Last year, Melanie Bonajo was shortlisted for the 57th Venice Biennale. Her film Night Soil – Economy of Love, nominated 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 her Night Soil trilogy in a solo show at FOAM, Amsterdam, and was acquired by Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht. The trilogy has been exhibited at Frankfurter Kunstverein this year and will partly be shown at Haus der Kunst, München early next year. Melanie Bonajo lives and works in Amsterdam and New York. 



  • Installation View Night Soil - Economy of Love, Melanie Bonajo: Single Mother Songs from the end of Nature, Frankfurter Kunstverein 2017 (Photo: N. Miguletz)

  • Progress vs. Regress, 2016 (film still)

  • Pilgrimage with the Animals, performance at Tate Modern Museum London, 2017

  • Nigh Soil - Economy of Love, 2015, HD one-channel colour video with sound, 36 min (film still)

  • Völkerschau (Panda), 2010, roman print, framed, 93 x 73 cm

  • Night Soil - Economy of Love, 2015, AKINCI Amsterdam (photo Peter Cox)

  • Nocturnal Gardening, 2016, HD video film, 49:47 min (film still)

  • Matrix Botanica, 2013, single-channel HD video, 22.25 min. (film still)

  • Genital Panik, 2012, an event for equality, courtesy by Akinci

  • Furniture Bondage: Nora, 2007, c-print, dibond, ingelijst, 151x123 cm (met lijst)