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Melanie Bonajo: Bound bodies

When you face the Chiesetta della Misericordia, which borders one of the many Venetian canals, there is no indication of what awaits you inside: the cold gray stone is followed by a colorful patchwork carpet-seat, inviting visitors to lounge on it while the film, “When the body says Yes,” by Dutch artist Melanie Bonajo, is shown. This immersive video installation, which is presented as part of the Venice Biennale, is a restitution of their ongoing research on the role of touch in the creation of intimacy in societies where solitude is increasing and relationships are built at a distance. 

This piece is a continuation of the work of the artist, body sexologist, and educator, who, since 2014, has been creating documentaries that they present within welcoming scenographies, often designed in collaboration with Théo Demans. In each of them, they give voice to vulnerable or marginalized groups, highlighting their experience of the world, their bodies, and relationships in the light of the ambivalence of technological advances. Melanie Bonajo’s work is not about returning to a better “before,” but rather about the growing sense of alienation while the sense of belonging is constantly being eroded. Their works are, on the contrary, as many nuanced reflections and models that we can choose to reproduce, or not, to reinvest ourselves collectively and do ourselves good.

Flora Fettah