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by Melanie Bonajo

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16 page full color catalog from Melanie Bonajo's solo show "captive lives western spectacle" at Capricious

In this exhibition, Melanie Bonajo explores the inhuman characteristics of relationships and prejudices among humans and animals. She investigates the affinity and association between the human and animal worlds – the proximity and expanse between their realms, and potential outcomes of a great imbalance of power.

Deeply concerned with their state, Bonajo takes photographs of depressed animals. She explores the notion that the way we confiscate animals from their local landscapes and move them around – treating them solely as inanimate forms, instead of living beings – is an act of violence.

Through these acts, Bonajo believes captured animals become more human than we typically think. That is, these (manmade) violent processes illustrate the oppression that is innate in humans in order to suppress some sort of Other within them. Bonajo holds that we are we living in the twilight of the mammalian era, with zoos as keepers of relics of the past. We may wonder: will this end include the death of humanity or only a small part of it?

In Bonajo’s forecast, animals will start to re-appear in people’s lives as ghosts. Their spirits will be revived at night in dreams. Due to an increased sense of loss, people will sanctify animals in the future like that of pre-modern animistic believers. Through technological means of instant and invisible communication through space and time, humans will try to cross ancient animal territories to heal the past.

For this presentation, Bonajo’s images (all produced without digital manipulation), video and installations depict vignettes of human attempts at animal healing and the merging of man and machine. Captive Lives Western Spectacle warns of a future in which mammals no longer exist and have permanently moved their existence into the sphere of archetypes.

About Melanie Banajo

Melanie Bonajo was born in Heerlen, The Netherlands in 1978. In 1998, she moved to Amsterdam and entered the Gerrit Rietveld Academy where she majored in Photography and Fine Arts. Her photographs have been exhibited in major art institutions internationally, such as Institute Neérlandais (Paris), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), SMBA (Amsterdam), Fons Welters (Amsterdam), Foam (Amsterdam), Fette Gallery (Los Angeles), Bongout Gallery (Berlin), MadVickyTea Galley (Paris), Mordern Art Museum (Lublijana), Kohun Museum of Modern Art (Seoul), Photofestival Allepo (Syria). In May 2009, PPOW Gallery hosted Bonajo’s first solo exhibition in New York and at the same time, Capricious published her first artist monograph, “I Have a Room with Everything.” She was the winner of the 2003 Dutch Young Artist Award, and winner of the 2007 Bookprice Pup Award. Bonajo was nominated for the Hyeres Photo award 2009. Her work has been published in Capricious Magazine, Eye-magazine, Glu, Livraison, Famous Magazine, and Mollusk, among others. She is currently a resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam.