melanie bonajo: When the body says Yes

26 Jul-27 Oct 2024

IMMA, Irish Museum Of Modern Art
Dublin 8 D08 FW31


When the body says Yes is an immersive video installation by melanie bonajo (they/them), a queer non-binary Dutch artist, filmmaker, sexological bodyworker, and somatic sex coach and educator. The installation, originally commissioned by the Mondriaan Fund for the Biennale Arte 2022, 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. 

Through their videos, performances, photographs and installations, melanie examines current conundrums of co-existence in crippling capitalistic systems, and address themes of eroding intimacy and isolation in an increasingly sterile, technological world. 

They research how technological advances and commodity-based pleasures increase feelings of alienation, removing a sense of belonging in an individual, and their works present anti-capitalist methods to reconnect, explore sexualities, intimacies and feelings. Their experimental documentaries often explore communities living or working on the margins of society, either through illegal means or cultural exclusion, and the paradoxes inherent to ideas of comfort with a strong sense for community, equality, and body-politics. 

bonajo worked with a curatorial team consisting of Orlando Maaike Gouwenberg, Geir Haraldseth and Soraya Pol to develop When the body says Yes which represented The Netherlands at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022. The scenography for the installation, both at the Venice Biennale and in subsequent iterations, including at IMMA, has been developed in collaboration with Théo Demans. 

melanie bonajo was nominated for the Nam June Paik Award (2018) and the Prix de Rome (2017) and won the IFFR Tiger Award (2016).  

When the body says Yes was shown at FOMU, Antwerp, Belgium (2023) and KUMU Art Museum, Tallinn, Estonia (2024). melanie bonajo is represented by Akinci, Amsterdam.