Melanie Bonajo (NL)

A Body Called…°

The artist did not grant permission for a video recording.

Melanie Bonajo - A Body Called…° (26-05-2019)
Brief Encounters '19
Photography Gert Jan van Rooij

Laws, says the famous French philosopher Bruno Latour, should not be organized only around human beings, but also around trees, rivers, stones, plants and animals. Because why should a tree not be allowed to be its own owner? Why should a river not be permitted a legal say? Latour gives us – humans – the pleasantly liberating insight that we as a species do not determine the world on our own, but that the world shapes us too.

Latour’s philosophy is right up the Dutch artist Melanie Bonajo’s street. Her work is distinguished by a search for meaning away from the well-trodden paths. This has involved Bonajo entering into contact with proud sex workers, experiencing touching encounters with old folk, and observing people who live off the grid in a distant rainforest, seeking their refuge in spirituality or mind-expanding drugs. This all takes place within an approach that is honest and empathetic, but also aesthetically breathtaking.

For Brief Encounters, Bonajo has created a new performance, A Body Called…°, in which De Oude Warande is both subject and object. With what kind of consciousness do the oak tree, the beech, the moss, the half-dead rhododendron and the grass we walk upon regard us? If there were a court of law at which De Oude Warande occupied a position as a park, what kind of laws would apply there? How can we give shape to the human inner cry for meaning without harming other life forms?

In her performance Bonajo bewitched a tiny part of the world. After that ritual act, we – the observers – returned home with the knowledge that the world looked very different. More equal, more colourful, more loving and with more possibilities.

Lucette ter Borg