Dutch Pavilion, 59th International Art Exhibition. La Biennale di Venezia
When the body says Yes by Orlando Maaike Gouwenberg, Geir Haraldseth, Soraya Pol
Chiesetta della Misericordia of Art Events, Venezia
April 23 – November 27, 2022
‘When the body says Yes’ is a new immersive video installation by melanie bonajo (they/them, lower case), a Dutch artist, filmmaker, sexological bodyworker, and somatic sex coach and educator. Commissioned by the Mondriaan Fund for the Biennale Arte 2022 (23 April – 27 November), the installation 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.
About the project, bonajo says: “Love is not learned in isolation and, if you have felt it, someone else has probably felt it too. We created a collective spell in the form of a pleasure-positive camp, eco-erotic queer eros, celebrating our kin through skinship. A place of productive chaos and care, where we practiced touch tutorials, set boundaries, gave and received consent, drank our own poison at the trigger bar, did weird therapies and acknowledged feelings as valid.
We brought together a group of international genderqueer people, where many have a bicultural identity and we expanded on sexuality beyond the western discourse, what our genitals mean to us and others, self-expression as a healing modality, the way our body matrix sends and receives information about closeness and touch, and how that is embodied in different language structures. Do you know the sensational dimensions of your No. How do you feel when your body says Yes?”
‘When the body says Yes’ draws visitors into a sense-altering environment and invites them to reflect on the meaning of touch and intimacy in relation to their own bodies. Immersed in an atmosphere of softness and sensuality – a cushioned refuge from the outside world – they can explore their own ‘touch language’.
‘When the body says Yes’ is curated by Orlando Maaike Gouwenberg, Geir Haraldseth and Soraya Pol, and the scenography is designed in collaboration with Théo Demans. For the 2022 edition, the Mondriaan Fund has decided to break with tradition and present the Dutch entry at a new location, the Chiesetta della Misericordia of Art Events, a deconsecrated 13th – century church in Cannaregio. The Mondriaan Fund has meanwhile invited Estonia to make use of the Rietveld Pavilion for the current edition.