Every year Unseen commissions an artist to make work that will become the face of Unseen Amsterdam. For 2017, Dutch photographer and filmmaker Melanie Bonajo is producing a new series of work for the sixth edition, which takes place on the 22nd to the 24th September 2017 in Amsterdam. Melanie Bonajo's images address the tense relationship between modernisation and nature. The artist proclaims that our current societal structures are rooted in consumerism and technology, which has distanced us from our ability to be empathetic towards one another. Titled ‘Last Child in the Woods’, the photographic project presents children in a transformative state of reconnection with the environment, turning into mystical creatures that symbolise compassion and openness. We are excited to be collaborating with Melanie and will be showing her work across our platform and during the events in September.
Each image in this year’s campaign series portrays an ideal realm where children acquire magical qualities as they return to the natural world. Recycling disposed materials as playful outfits, the artist incorporates discarded waste into their garb, twisting the symbolism surrounding our idea of what constitutes a ‘natural environment’. The youthful integrity of the subjects is communicated through their garments: a hybrid of plants and pieces of discarded waste, in direct reference to contemporary consumerism. Plants also play a crucial role in the series. The images depict youthful elves practicing their communication skills with potted flora and fauna in preparation for their retreat to the forest, away from modern society.
The subjects in are elvish, supernatural beings, meant to signify an intermediary creature between plants and humans. Through these characters, the artist addresses our society’s reliance on the pillars of commerce and technology, which systemically suppress our ability to communicate through emotion. The artist uses face and body paint to indicate the transparency of emotion in the characters. Each time a judgement is made towards them, the elves change colour, laying their emotions bare for all to see.
Melanie's work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, London; Foam, Amsterdam; Eye Film Museum, Amsterdam; PPOW Gallery and PS1/MoMA, New York; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary At, Seoul; the Setdelijk Museum Amsterdam amongst other locations.
Image: DAISY 1 from the series Last Child in the Woods, 2017 © Melanie Bonajo/AKINCI/Selection made by Unseen