Progress vs. Sunsets
15. 09. – 08. 10. 2023
Progress vs. Sunsets

Progress vs. Sunsets

Melanie Bonajo

PYLON is excited to present the online screening of Progress vs. Sunsets (2017) by Melanie Bonajo.

Melanie Bonajo (they/them/theirs) is an artist, filmmaker, sexological bodyworker, somatic sex coach and educator, cuddle workshop facilitator and activist. Through their videos, performances, photographs, and installations, they examine current conundrums of co-existence in a crippling capitalist system, and address themes of eroding intimacy and isolation in an increasingly sterile, technological world. They research how technological advances and commodity-based pleasures increase feelings of alienation, removing an individual’s sense of belonging. Their works present anti-capitalist methods to reconnect and to explore sexualities, intimacies and feelings. Bonajo’s experimental documentaries often feature communities living or working on the margins of society, either through illegal means or cultural exclusion, and the paradoxes inherent to ideas of comfort with a strong sense for community, equality and body-politics.

Bonajo studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and completed residencies at the Rijksakademie voor Beeldende Kunst in Amsterdam (2009-10) and at ISCP in New York (2014).

Solo exhibitions have been: FOMU Antwerp, BE (2023); Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, NL (2018); Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, DE (2017); FOAM, Amsterdam, NL (2016). Expected solo shows with When the body says Yes will be: KUMU Tallinn, EE (2023) ; Fotografiska Berlin, DE (2023); IMMA Dublin, IE (2024); Kunstpalais Erlangen, DE (2024).

Melanie Bonjao is represented by Amsterdam based gallery AKINCI.

The online screening is part of the curatorial program NEWS FROM NOWHERE by PYLON, including a series of on- and offline screenings and exhibitions and will be on view until October 8, 2023. The screening is kindly supported by Landeshaupstadt Dresden - Amt für Kultur und Denkmalschutz and by Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen. Gefördert durch die Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsen. Diese Maßnahme wird mitfinanziert durch Steuermittel auf der Grundlage des vom Sächsischen Landtag beschlossenen Haushaltes.

Progress vs. Sunsets

Progress vs. Sunsets - Re-formulating the Nature Documentary (2017)

"Can we send ‘funny’ animal videos into space for aliens to discover the Earth’s ecosystem?"

This and other questions are the ones that Bonajo investigates for the second part of her trilogy, Progress vs. Sunsets (2017), by interviewing children about our current state of the planet. This trilogy is examining extinction or endangerment of vulnerable groups and species through techno-capital development, but also extinction in an abstract sense, extinction of feelings and thought forms.

It seems our culture is tone-deaf to the non-human world. How does animal representation online influence the prolonging of a species' life in the” wild” or in captivity? Paying a en on to the animal online tells us something about our own species' future, about who is protected on this planet and who is not.

The lives of non-human animals and their online representation are closely interwoven and that is why the symbol of the animal has drastically changed over the past couple of years. The film “Progress vs. Sunsets” illustrates how our relationship with nature has changed through the popularization of amateur nature footage on the Internet.

This is shown through the eyes and voices of children, the next generation, who seem to pinpoint and address easily the complicated issues around animal rights, bio-politics, dwindling resources, ecology, and anthropomorphism in which Nature, as the ultimate other is seen as a utilitarian object outside of ourselves and the implications these ethics have on human desires, emotions, emotiveness and sentimentality towards ‘the others”.

On another level the film addresses how adults often en prejudice and accompany systematic discrimination against young people, applying an adult model of thinking and being on a young child caused by a fear of the child’s view of self that trades on rejecting and excluding child-subjectivity, or magical non-dualistic way of thinking, which has always been excluded of tern thinking. This view holds that compassion depends on emotions and that emotions lead to attachments.

These emotions and attachments are traditionally perceived as irrational leading to vulnerability and consequent suffering within a state of acknowledging interrelatedness. This film points out the opposite. Affective connections, including empathy and compassion, have a rational and practical component which if devaluated justifies oppression and distorts our relationship with each other, with the earth and other animals, and consequently our own survival as a species.