March 10, 2020 - Mondriaan Fund - Melanie Bonajo to represent the Netherlands at the 2021 Venice Biennale
March 10, 2020

Mondriaan Fund

Melanie Bonajo, Night Soil - Economy of Love, 2015. HD one-channel colour video with sound. Courtesy the artist & AKINCI.

Melanie Bonajo to represent the Netherlands at the 2021 Venice Biennale

Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Chiesetta della Misericordia

Curatorial team: Maaike Gouwenberg, Geir Haraldseth and Soraya Pol
Commissioned by: Mondriaan Fund

The artist selected to represent the Netherlands at the Venice Biennale in 2021 is Melanie Bonajo. An international jury selected Bonajo from a long list of artists and curators. Bonajo’s work will be presented at the Chiesetta della Misericordia in the Cannaregio neighbourhood in Venice, since the Mondriaan Fund decided to leave the Giardini for the upcoming edition. 

For the 59th Venice Biennale, Bonajo will produce a new film, which will be presented together with a publication in an extensive installation. Quoting from the proposal: "In Venice, Bonajo takes charge of the [human] body and hauls it up out of the claws of capitalism. Mel* absorbs you into The New Intimacy Movement. She challenges you to recognize and explore the body anew, as a means of connection, intimacy, touch and safety. You are swept along in adventures that stimulate all the senses: feeling is a form of intelligence, thinking through touch."

Melanie Bonajo makes films about the development and connections between intimacy, technological progress, stigmatization around gender and equality, feminism, ecology and feelings of alienation. In experimental documentaries, Bonajo uses humour and staged situations in order to highlight communities that find themselves in the margins of society, through cultural exclusion or illegality. These films are presented in installations designed in close collaboration with designer Théo Demans.

In addition, Bonajo creates books, performances, music and events. Her plans for her presentation in Venice will be further developed and finalized in the coming months.

Melanie Bonajo’s work has been presented at Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2019), Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (2019-20), Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht (2018), Riga International Biennale of Contemporary Art (2018), Frankfurter Kunstverein (2017) and the Tate Modern in London (2017).

Members of the jury 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 2021
The Mondriaan Fund recently announced that the Dutch presentation for the 59th Venice Biennale would take place at a new location in the city. From among a number of options, Melanie Bonajo and the curatorial team selected the Chiesetta della Misericordia, a deconsecrated 13th-century church.

For 2021, the Mondriaan Fund wants the Dutch presentation to take place outside the Rietveld Pavilion and the Giardini. Director Eelco van der Lingen hopes to establish a new point of reference for the future. "For us, it is good to step out of our comfort zone and take a look around at what freedoms being outside the walls of the pavilion can generate. This also offers the Dutch contribution the opportunity to conceive a plan that does not have to take Rietveld, the pavilion, or the Giardini into account." The Mondriaan Fund has meanwhile invited Estonia to make use of the Rietveld Pavilion for the 2021 Venice Biennale.

The Mondriaan Fund
The Mondriaan Fund, the public fund for visual art and cultural heritage in the Netherlands, is responsible for the Dutch entry to the Venice Biennale. For the Netherlands’ contribution to the 59th Venice Biennale in 2021, a radically new procedure was decided on, unlike the open calls used in previous years. Following the 2021 Venice Biennale, the Mondriaan Fund will examine the various options available and develop a new procedure for the future.

*Mel is the pronoun that Melanie Bonajo generally uses, expressly avoiding any specifically male or female gender identity.

For further information and images: 
The Mondriaan Fund, Caroline Soons: T +31 (0) 20 523 15 23 / c.soons [​at​]

Mondriaan Fund
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