Melanie Bonajo (born 13 November 1978, Heerlen) is a Dutch artist working with film, performance, installations, music, event organizing, and photography. Her works address themes of eroding intimacy and isolation in an increasingly sterile, technological world. Her experimental documentaries often explore communities living or working on the margins of society, either through illegal means or cultural exclusion. Her work has been exhibited and screened internationally, from the Tate Modern, MoMA PS1, to De Appel Arts Centre and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam to the Center for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, the Kunsthalle Basel, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), the Berlinale, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and Treefort Film Fest.
Bonajo's film series Night Soil is a trio of experimental documentaries about modern approaches to nature and the cultural implications of acting against capitalism. The first in the series, Night Soil - Fake Paradise, is about psychedelic plant medication and human-plant conversations. The sequel, Night Soil - Economy of Love presents an alternative ethical model for sex-work healing and activism. The third film, "Night Soil - Nocturnal Gardening" questions the role of radical agriculture in a world of dwindling natural resources and disconnection to nature. Her other recent film, which premiered at Hacking Habitat, Progress vs. Regress is the first in a trilogy that questions how technology has evolved through the eyes of elderly people in the Netherlands. This film was also selected for IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam) 2016
Music and PerformanceEdit
Bonajo has performed internationally at venues such as Paradiso in Amsterdam, Baby's Alright in NYC and Collège des Bernardins in Paris alongside artists such as Kembra Pfahler and Bianca Cassidy of CocoRosie. Her band, ZaZaZoZo, is a music project with Joseph Marzolla known for its tribal pop sound and animalistic influence. All their music is produced by Bonajo's brother Tommie Bonajo at his Tomster studios. They released their debut album INUA in spring 2013 by Tsunami Addiction. Their latest single and video, Woke up as a Wolf, was released in 2014.
Bonajo's Furniture Bondage photography series pairs domestic tools with the naked female body. In 2012 she initiated Genital International, a feminist performance collective event about participation and equality. Bonajo's photography series and music video work Pee on Presidents is often tied to the recent anti-censorship and sex-positive branches of the feminist movement for its endorsement of female body agency in public environments, resulting in a provocation of censorship laws in the media.
Bonajo released her first major publication since Spheres in December 2015 Matrix Botanica Nonhuman Persons designed by Experimental Jetset, which explores the ways we experience nature through representations on the internet, via YouTube and blogs posting adorable, funny or adorably sad amateur videos and photographs of nonhuman animals. This publication delves into the ways nature education has changed over the years and integrates the voices of animal behavior scientists rather than a National Geographic perspective.
As of March 2016, Bonajo, along with curators Maaike Gouwenberg and Emma Panza, was shortlisted to represent The Netherlands at the 57th Venice Biennale.
“The method of Bonajo is representative of practices of a younger generation that is based on collectivity and exchange.”
Her third Night Soil film to complete the trilogy premiered at the Tate Modern's Artists' Cinema in London September 7, 2016. It will then be showcased at Foam museum in Amsterdam starting September 15, 2016 as part of the Next Level exhibition.
In April 2017, Melanie Bonajo has been selected and shortlisted for the Prix de Rome Visual Arts 2017.
- 2019 TouchMETell
- 2018 Progress vs Sunsets
- 2016 Night Soil - Nocturnal Gardening
- 2016 Progress vs Regress
- 2015 Night Soil - Economy of Love
- 2014 Night Soil - Fake Paradise
- 2013 Pee on Presidents
- 2013 Matrix Botanica - Biosphere Above Nations
- 2018 Melanie Bonajo - Single Mother Songs from the End of Nature
- 2016 Matrix Botanica - How to Escape from an Elderly Home Method 2016
- 2014 ZaZaZoZo - Woke up as a Wolf
- 2013 ZaZaZoZo - Inua (Tsunami Addiction)
- 2014 Pee on Presidents
- 2012 How to get Closer to Nature Exercises
- 2009 Furniture Bondage 
- 2008 Thank You For Hurting Me I Really Needed That (Crying Series)
- 2015 Matrix Botanica - Non Human Persons (Capricious Publishing, designed by Experimental Jetset)
- 2014 Pee on Presidents, (Self Publish Be Happy)
- 2012 SPHERES, (Spheres Publications) 
- 2012 One Room, Nine Possible Answers, Three Rooms (Self published)
- 2009 Volkerschau Zine (Capricious publishing)
- 2009 Furniture Bondage (Kodoijpress)
- 2009 Bush Compulsion, A Primitive Breakthrough in the Modern Mind (Museumpaper)
- 2009 I have a Room with Everything (Capricious Publishing)
- 2007 Modern Life of the Soul (Artist Book)
Events and CuratorialEdit
- 2015 Night Soil Musical Celebration of our Sexual Psychedelic Power with Bunny Michael, Baby's All Right, NYC
- 2014 HOODOO ∆ VOODOO, Collège des Bernardins, Paris
- 2014 The Feeling Internet, Mediamatic, Amsterdam
- 2014 Qu'est-ce que C'est?, Paradiso, Amsterdam
- 2019 TouchMETell, Rabo Lab, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, NL
- 2019 Progress vs. Sunsets, Kunsthalle Lingen, DE
- 2018 The Death of Melanie Bonajo, Bonnefantenmuseum, NL
- 2017 Melanie Bonajo: Single Mother Songs from the End of Nature - Night Soil Trilogy, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt
- 2016 Next Level: Melanie Bonajo - Night Soil, Foam, Amsterdam
- 2015 Night Soil - Economy of Love, Akinci Gallery, Amsterdam
- 2015 Company Gallery, NYC
- 2013 Matrix Botanica; Biosphere above Nations, Museum de Paviljoens, Almere
- 2011 86 details of Paradise, Outline, Amsterdam
- 2009 The Grand Exploring Soul and the Point where History Failed, Rijksakdemie Open, Amsterdam
- 2019 Be Fragile! Be Brave! (Night Soil-Economy of Love), curated by Rebeka Põldsam, Pori Museum, FI
- 2019 Vrijheid. Vijftig Nederlandse Kernkunstwerken sinds 1968, curated by Hans den Hartog Jager, Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle, NL
- 2019 Creatures Made to Measure—Animals and Contemporary Design (Progress vs Sunsets), an exhibition by Martha Herford Museum in collaboration with Tanja Seiner, Design Museum, Ghent, BE
- 2018 Exhibition Nam June Paik Awards, 2018, Westfälischer Kunstverein, DE
- 2018 Out of Office, Singer Museum, Laren, NL
- 2018 Een ontembare kracht, Cobra Museum, Amstelveen, NL
- 2018 ABN AMRO collection exhibition, 'Natural' Constructions - curated by Danila Cahen, Circl. ART, Amsterdam, NL
- 2018 Genius Loci (Night Soil—Fake Paradise), Parc Saint Léger, Pougues-les-Eaux, FR
- 2018 Creatures Made to Measure—Animals and Contemporary Design (Progress vs Sunsets), Martha Herford Museum, DE
- 2018 Bloot/Exposed, (Peeing on Presidents), Museum Kranenburgh, Bergen, NL
- 2018 Freedom of Movement (Progress vs. Sunsets), Stedelijk Museum, Amserdam, NL
- 2018 Guangzhou Triennial (Progress vs. Sunsets), Guangzhou Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China
- 2018 Manifesta 12, Palermo, IT
- 2018 Anima Mundi, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, NL
- 2018 Haus der Sinnsuche, gutes leben durch Kultur, curated by Ellen Blumenstein, Kunstsaele, Berlin, DE
- 2018 Object Love, de Domijnen, Sittard, NL
- 2018 Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art (RIBOCA), curated by Katerina Gregos, Riga
- 2018 Reis naar de toekomst, Tussendiepen, Drachten, NL
- 2018 Blind Faith: Between the Visceral and the Cognitive in Contemporary Art, Haus der Kunst, München, DE
- 2017 Ten Days Six Nights, Tate Modern, London 
- 2017 Exhibition Prix de Rome 2017, Kunsthal, Rotterdam
- 2017 Homeward Bound, Nicodim gallery, Los Angeles, USA
- 2017 Once more, with feeling, curated by Martine van Kampen, KAF Expo, Almere stad, NL
- 2017 Summer of Love, Schwarz Foundation, curated by Katerina Gregos, Lesbos, GR
- 2017 Ben ik een dier? De Domijnen, Sittard, NL
- 2017 CBK Zeeland, FAÇADE 2017: Face your freedom, Zeeland, NL
- 2017 Screen Present Tense, HDLU, Zagreb
- 2017 Wiener Festwochen - The Conundrum of Imagination, Leopold Museum Vienna, AU
- 2017 Bienne Festival of Photography, Biel, CH
- 2017 Planetary Garden, curated by Ashley Lumb & Laura Mclean, Manuka Arts Centre, AU
- 2017 Artefact Expo: The Act of Magic, curated by Karen Verschooren & Ilse Huygens, STUK, Leuven, BE
- 2017 Living in Dreams, curated by Els Fiers & Frank Koolen, De Bond Brugge, BE
- 2016 Give Me Yesterday, Fondazione Prada, IT 
- 2016 Close-Up A New Generation of Film and Video Artists in the Netherlands , EYE Film Institute, Amsterdam
- 2016 Hacking Habitat, NL 
- 2019 Prix Pictet (nominee)
- 2018 Amsterdamprijs voor de Kunst (nominee)
- 2018 Nam June Paik Award (nominee)
- 2017 Prix de Rome (nominee)
- 2017 Campaign Artist for Amsterdam Unseen
- 2016 Shortlisted for the Dutch Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale
- 2015 IFFR Tiger Award for short films (nominee)
- 2014 IFFR Tiger Award for short films (nominee)
- 2013 MK Award
- 2011 C.o.C.a (nominee)
- 2009 Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Peter Paul Peterich Fonds
- 2009 Festival Internationale de la Mode et Photographie
- 2007 PUP Award
- 2006 Berlinale Talent Campus
- Melanie Bonajo at the RKD
- Frank, Priscilla. "Meet The High Priestess Of The Anti-Selfie, Dutch Artist Melanie Bonajo", "Huffington Post", 2 November 2015. Retrieved on 7 April 2016.
- "Isa Genzken Door De Ogen Van Melanie Bonajo - Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam." 1 January 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
- Yoshimura, Courtney. "Melanie Bonajo Speaks about Her New Video at the De Appel Arts Centre" "ArtForum", 8 October 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
- Hacking Habitat (2016). "Melanie Bonajo". Retrieved September 18, 2016.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-11-07. Retrieved 2016-11-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Bonajo, Melanie. "MELANIE MEETS BIANCA CASADY" Archived 2017-11-07 at the Wayback Machine 28 July 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
- "ZaZaZoZo". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
- Bonajo, Melanie. "Kim Hiorthøy by Melanie Bonajo", "BOMB Magazine", 29 October 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
- "AVANTGARDE PORTFOLIO SHOWCASE | MELANIE BONAJO | GALLERY" Archived 2016-05-14 at the Wayback Machine, "Lightra", Retrieved 7 April 2016.
- Frank, Priscilla. "15 Feminist Artists Respond To The Censorship Of Women’s Bodies Online", "The Huffington Post", 13 April 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
- "Spheres #1 – Melanie Bonajo / In what spheres do we live in?". motto distribution. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- "This was 2015". experimental jetset. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- "Matrix Botanica—Non-Human Persons". Capricious. Capricious Publishing. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- "Vijf plannen op shortlist Nederlands paviljoen Biënnale Venetië" "Mondriaan Fonds", Amsterdam. 2 March 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
- Tate. "MELANIE BONAJO: NIGHT SOIL TRILOGY". Tate. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- Tate Modern. "2016 Cinema Programme", "e-flux", New York. 1 January 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
- Foam.  .
- "Shortlist Prix de Rome Beeldende Kunst 2017 bekend". Prix de Rome. 2017-04-20. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
- "Preview On Earth". Issuu. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
- Julia Kahl. "Spheres #1 – Melanie Bonajo / In what spheres do we live?". Slanted. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
- "Melanie Bonajo: Night Soil in Foam Amsterdam". Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam. Retrieved 2017-05-16.
- Melanie Bonajo on Vimeo
- the "anti-selfie" crying pictures http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/15/melanie-bonajo_n_5811496.html