Wandering The Milk of Dreams was a truly sensory, mind-blowing journey. That’s what we thought when, as MA students in Design Management & Strategic Innovation at Istituto Marangoni, we joined other students from the Milan Design School to visit the 59th International Art Exhibition at la Biennale di Venezia, curated by Cecilia Alemani.
As international art and design students, visiting the Biennale Arte 2022 was an absolutely immersive experience for all of us, deeply rich in information and new ways of thinking, processing and perceiving the world around us. Contemplating different representations of finely curated exhibitions and installations from all over the world collected in a single city, we’ll discuss here some of our picks from the show.
Until The Songs Spring, the exhibition presented at the Mexican Pavilion as part of the 59th International Art Exhibition at la Biennale di Venezia
Held once every two years, Venice’s Biennale Arte is divided into three pillars: international exhibitions, national pavilion exhibitions and side events. Hosted at both the Giardini and the Arsenale, the pavilions of the participating countries and the international exhibition rework the year’s theme through different media such as painting, sculpture, hand-crafted elements, videos and other visual and auditory installations. Moreover, we noticed plenty of exhibitions around Venice, engaging the entire city in this didactic and immersive experience.
“The Biennale Arte 2022 takes its name from a book by Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington (1917-2011)” – Cecilia Alemani, Artistic Director of the 59th International Art Exhibition at la Biennale di Venezia
“In the 1950s, while living in Mexico, Carrington dreamed up and illustrated mysterious tales, first directly on the walls of her home, then in a small notebook called The Milk of Dreams,” Alemani continued.
Streaming Stillness exhibited at the Biennale Arte 2022: Media artist Jiayu Liu reimagined Chinese topography using AI technology
In her The Milk of Dreams, Carrington described a magical world “where life is constantly re-envisioned through the prism of the imagination, and where everyone can change, be transformed, become something and someone else,” Alemani pointed out. “The Exhibition takes the Surreal artist’s otherworldly creatures, along with other figures of transformation, as companions on an imaginary journey through the metamorphoses of bodies and definitions of the human.”
In numbers, 213 artists from 58 countries have joined the Biennale Arte 2022, and 180 are participating in the International Exhibition for the first time. With 1433 works and objects on display, 80 new projects have been conceived specifically for the Biennale Arte.
The Venice debut of Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Logic Paralyzes the Heart (2022), has won her a distinguished special mention from the Biennale’s jury. Narrated by a 61-year-old cyborg, the video installation opines on the body’s integration with digital and military-based systems of control
Far from only traditional means of artistic expression, some exhibitions and installations involved high-tech resources such as artificial intelligence tools and exciting and innovative software and hardware features such as motion capture, 3D printing, 3D projections, real-time rendering and more. The use of these technologies, in some exhibitions, acted as bridges between the virtual (metaverse) world and the real (physical) world, thus bringing them closer together and connecting human senses to digital interfaces.
The South African Pavilion presented the works of Phumulani Ntuli, Lebohang Kganye and Roger Ballen in its theme, Into the Light. Here, 25 monochromatic images displayed on light boxes by Roger Ballen
We could identify some constant and persistent themes in this sensory journey across those different media. There was a marked emphasis on the human body and its dysmorphia, on the Earth and its undeniable importance to human existence, and, last but not least, on the ever-closer relationship between humans as individuals, society and technology. The latter was the most magical and exciting part, while the exploration of the human body was very eye-catching and sometimes upsetting, which is very much related to the meaning of the name of the exhibition: Milk of Dreams.
The Chinese Pavilion, titled Meta-Scape, introduced three individuals and one group of artists to display their artworks. The works by Liu Jiayu, Wang Yuyang, and Xu Lei were displayed next to "Jungle", an installation by AT group. Here, Quarterly (2021), by Wang Yuyang