The Netherlands announce an artist and a change of scene for Venice 2021

Melanie Bonajo, Night Soil – Economy of Love, 2015. Courtesy Collection Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht. © the artist.
The Netherlands is the latest country to announce their plans for the 59th Venice Biennale, due to start in May 2021.


From a long list of artists and curators who had applied to participate in earlier versions of the biennial, the jury unanimously chose artist Melanie Bonajo to take over the Dutch pavilion. Maaike Gouwenberg, Soraya Pol and Geir Haraldseth will join her as the curatorial team.


The pavilion will house a new film by Bonajo, presented with a publication. The project plan explained, “Bonajo takes charge of the [human] body and hauls it up out of the claws of capitalism. Mel absorbs you into The New Intimacy Movement. She challenges you to recognize and explore the body anew, as a means of connection, intimacy, touch and safety. You are swept along in adventures that stimulate all the senses: feeling is a form of intelligence, thinking through touch.”


As well as revealing their champion artist, the Mondriaan Fund (the Dutch public fund for visual arts and culture responsible for the country’s Biennale entry) announced that the pavilion would be moving out of the Rietveld Pavilion in the Giardini to a deconsecrated 13th-century church in Venice’s Cannaregio neighbourhood, the Chiesetta della Misericordia. They hope the move will establish a future point of reference, and will allow a greater freedom by removing the requirement of taking the Rietveld into account in the development of the project. Estonia has been invited to move into the previous pavilion.


© Mondriaan Fund