Company is proud to present Nocturnal Gardening, a solo exhibition of new work by Melanie Bonajo. Featuring the premiere of her video Night Soil – Fake Paradise as well as several photographs, Bonajo’s work focuses on the relationship between nature and civilization, specifically what happens when feelings of kinship transcend the tenuous boundaries of species and biological taxonomy.
Night Soil – Fake Paradise is the first in a three-part, experimental documentary presented as a series of conversations between people and plants. The film investigates the medicinal drug ayahuasca as a departure point to exploring ritual and the production of spiritual experience, devoting special attention to the feminine voice traditionally marginalized in psychedelic research. Bonajo questions the complex relationships that exist within and without the natural world and challenging the traditional notions that divide nature, people, and technology. She looks to eco-activism and, in particular, how that activism is leveraged illegally against global capitalism.
In her photographs, brightly painted bodies lithely pose amongst dense forests and urban landscapes, hybrids enmeshed as equally with modern technology as they are with the natural artifacts whose high-frequency voices prompt Bonajo to ask what we can learn from plants.
Melanie Bonajo examines the paradoxes inherent in ideas of comfort. Through her films, performances, photographs and installations, Bonajo examines subjects related to progress that remove from the individual a sense of belonging and looks at how technological advances and commodity-based pleasures increase feelings of alienation within the individual. Captivated by concepts of the divine, she explores the spiritual emptiness of her generation, examines peoples’ shifting relationship with nature and tries to understand existential questions by looking at our domestic situation, ideas around classification, concepts of home, gender and attitudes towards value.
This program is supported as part of the Dutch Consulate USA program by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.
Melanie Bonajo has exhibited and performed in art institutions internationally including De Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam; Center for Contemporary Art, Warsaw; MoMA PS1, New York; The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; The Moscow Bienniale; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul and PPOW Gallery, New York. Her films have played in festivals such as International Documentary Filmfestival (IDFA), NFF and Berlinale. In 2012 she initiated the collective Genital International, which tackles subjects around feminism, participation, equality, ecology through “Politics beyond Polarity” and “Revolution through Relaxation.” She has written for several art magazines and curated shows including the QQC Performance Festival about the relation between pop music and visual arts at the Paradiso, Amsterdam. She has published several books including Modern Life of the Soul, I Have a Room with Everything, Spheres and Furniture Bondage. In 2013 she released an album Inua;a, sound shield against the fantasies of the dominating group with Z▲Z▲Z◎Z◎, a musical institution for the unrepresented.