This year marks the 59th International Art Biennale which will take place from 23 April to 27 November 2022. Curated by Cecilia Alemani, this year’s Art Biennale titled The Milk of Dreams will include 80 National Participations and the first time the Venice Art Biennale will be curated by an Italian woman.
La Biennale di Venezia was established in 1895 and is now recognized as one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. The International Art Biennale is an esteemed art event at the forefront of the contemporary art world and is highly regarded and anticipated by the art community.
This year’s Exhibition, The Milk of Dreams takes its title from a book by Leonora Carrington where the Surrealist artist describes a magical world where creation and life itself are constantly being reimagined. The Exhibition is rooted in the conversation where artists all over the world question this moment in history where the survival of a species is threatened. The Exhibition focuses on three main themes that are reflective of the state of our world now: the representation of bodies and their metamorphosis; the relationship between individuals and technologies; the connection between bodies and the Earth.
Read on for our extensive guide to this year’s Biennale.
Commissioner: Jill Medvedow, Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
Curator: Eva Respini, Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
Exhibitor: Simone Leigh
Simone Leigh photographed by Shaniqwa Jarvis
For this year’s US Pavilion, artist Simone Leigh has been selected to represent the country with a new series of figurative sculptures in bronze and ceramic that furthers her commitment to bringing to light the labor and resilience of Black women throughout history. The artist draws upon artistic African traditions and the African diaspora. The artist uses a strategy which she coined “the creolization of form,” which merges disparate cultural languages linked throughout histories of colonization. Leigh weaves together references to 19th -century West African art, the material culture of early Black Americans, and colonial history.
Simone Leigh photographed by Shaniqwa Jarvis
Simone Leigh is an esteemed American artist with an expansive body of work ranging from sculptures, video and performances which centers Black femme interiority. The artist’s sculptural works bring together forms from vernacular architecture and the female body through the use of materials associated with the artistic traditions of Africa and the African diaspora.
Commissioner: Emma Dexter, British Council
Curator: Emma Ridgway
Exhibitor: Sonia Boyce
Sonia Boyce, For you, only you (installation view), 2007. Three-channel video installation. 14 mins 35 secs © Sonia Boyce. All Rights Reserved, DACS/Artimage 2022. Photography Mike Pollard
London-based artist Sonia Boyce will be representing Great Britain at this year’s Venice Biennale, making her the first Black Woman to represent Britain since the country’s participation in the prestigious art event. The artist’s drawings, paintings and photographs allude to her Afro-Caribbean heritage which features portraits of Black subjects. Boyce is also known for her innovative and experimental approach to artmaking, using performance and audio-visual elements in her work.
Sonia Boyce, Devotional (2018). © Sonia Boyce. All Rights Reserved, DACS:Artimage 2020. Image courtesy Manchester Art Gallery. Photo Mike Pollard
The artist told Times that Brexit and its consequences on Britain would influence her work and the idea of nationhood at the Art Biennale. Boyce adds “There is this question about nations and nationality and that is how [the biennale] was set up; to promote the so-called best of what was happening any given country or nation. I don’t know if it is anachronistic, but I still think it is important in the time we are in to think about what nation means”. She also states that her exhibition will involve and encourage collaboration asserting that she wants the work to be approachable. The artist adds “There are serious questions about how people can come together, particularly when there might be tensions around differences, but through art it is possible.”
Commissioner: Akwasi Agyeman, CEO, Ghana Tourism Authority Ministry of Tourism, Arts And Culture
Curator: Nana Oforiatta Ayim
Exhibitor: Na Chainkua Reindorf, Diego Araúja, Afroscope
Na Chainkua Reindorf - Evor, 2021 © Na Chainkua Reindorf
Under the patronage of Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Ghana will be presenting Black Star: The Museum As Freedom at the Art Biennale. The exhibition is titled after the Black Star that symbolises the Ghana Flag, the national football team and its important monuments. The Black Star has become a symbol of the connection between Africa and its diasporas through Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line and his Back-to-Africa movement that has since been revived in Ghana. The Black star symbolizes freedom, which is explored in the exhibition, examining new constellations of this freedom across time, technology and borders through large scale installations by Na Chainkua Reindorf, Afroscope and Diego Araúja curated by writer, filmmaker and art historian Nana Oforiatta Ayim.
Nana Opoku (Afroscope), Dreamer Series, 2021 © Nana Opoku
The exhibition is framed by Nana’s concept of the Mobile Museum which travels into communities across Ghana with the goal of creating accessible, contextual and inclusive spaces. At the Biennale, the Ghana Pavilion will present workshops and events in collaboration with diverse communities across the scenic city.
Commissioner: Direção-Geral Das Artes
Curator: João Mourão/ Luís Silva
Exhibitor: Pedro Neves Marques
Venue: Palazzo Franchetti San Marco 2847
Vampires in Space film still courtesy of Pedro Neves Marques
Portugal presents visual artist Pedro Neves Marques whose artistic practice includes cinema, poetry and theory as this year’s representative. This year’s exhibition is a solo project titled Vampires in Space which takes the form of a narrative installation featuring film, confessional poetry and scenography designed by Diogo Passarinho Studio transforming the space in Palazzo Franchetti into a spaceship where the existence, drama and routines of five passengers unfold.
Vampires in Space film still courtesy of Pedro Neves Marques
Neves’ knowledge of the genre and its trope is translated into the immersive sci-fi exhibition giving exhibition goers an understanding of dystopian futures and a glimpse into what future looms over our heads. The film shows us a preview of five vampire passengers travelling through space and having eternity at their disposal. The film itself has no beginning nor end in which it’s the journey that matters not the destination. The film guides the viewers into a contemplative state while the characters on screen do exactly that, guiding the visitor through an open-ended narrative about the role of fiction in our lives.
Commissioner: China Arts and Entertainment Group Ltd.
Curator: Zhang Zikang
Exhibitor: Liu Jiayu, Wang Yuyang, Xu Lei, Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) Institute of Sci-Tech Arts+Tsinghua Laboratory of Brain and Intelligence (TLBI) Group Project
Rendering of the China Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale
This year, the China Pavilion focuses on the traditional Chinese cultural discourse system, ‘Jing’, a word that evolves its meaning throughout time. The earliest interpretation of the word is used to discuss realm and boundary, gradually extending itself to the spiritual realm. Now, with the modernization of city dwellings and technological advancement, virtual reality has come to the forefront of technological discourse. The combination of the spiritual and machine can be interpreted as a ‘realm’ in Chinese tradition, for this reason, scientist Qian Xuesen translates virtual reality into the spiritual realm.
Wang Yuyang, Snowman, 265x190x285cm, brass, red copper, concrete, stainless steel, 2021
Meta-Scape is inspired by the concept of ‘Jing’ represented by poetry from the perspective of media theory. The exhibition presents itself from the perspective of contemporary society and modernization, an ecological or system image presented by the ‘environment’ is connected to the current human condition of ‘human-technology-nature’. The exhibition will feature a sculpture coined ‘Snowman’ by Wang Yuyang that takes centre stage and more works by Xu Lei and Liu Jiayu.
Commissioner: Australia Council for the Arts
Curator: Alexie Glass-Kantor
Exhibitor: Marco Fusinato
Marco Fusinato a page from the Score for DESASTRES, 2022 facsimile on Edition Petersmanuscript paper 45.5 x 30.3 cm. Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery
Commissioned by the Australia Council of the Arts, the Australian Pavilion, one of 29 national pavilions within the Biennale Gardens is presenting an idiosyncratic installation by contemporary artist and noise musician, Marco Fusinato. The installation titled DESASTRES is curated by Australia’s highly celebrated curator, Alexie Glass-Kantor.
Alexie Glass-Kantor and Marco Fusinato. Photo courtesy Zan Wimberley
DESASTRES explores the idea of noise as music and, Marco Fusinato creates work in the form of installation, photographic reproduction, performance, and recording. DESASTRES is an experience of sound and image that places the audience at the center of the work. The artist will perform live for a duration of 6 months in the pavilion using an electric guitar. Fusinato also created a ‘Score’ for the live performance, a selection of images from the archives printed on manuscript paper to make tangible the idea of image as sound. The installation reflects how the artist felt during the pandemic and the frustrations and turmoil of being bound indoors.
Commissioner: The Japan Foundation
Exhibitor: Dumb Type (Shiro Takatani, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ken Furudate, Satoshi Hama, Ryo Shiraki, Marihiko Hara, Hiromasa Tomari, Takuya Minami, Yoko Takatani)
Dumb Type, 2020, 2020, Performance at ROHM Theatre Kyoto, © Dumb Type, photo: Kazuo Fukunaga, photo courtesy of the artist
Commissioned by The Japan Foundation, this year’s Japan Pavilion will present Dumb Type, an art collective formed in Kyoto in 1984. Dumb Type consists of artists working in various fields including visual arts, video, computer programming, music, and dance. The group’s creative practice comprises of flat, fluid, non-hierarchic collaborations. The group participates in a wide range of discourses including gender, race, AIDS, life and death, memory and information society.
Dumb Type, TRACE/REACT II, 2020, Video Installation, 10m x 10m × H6m, Installation view from the exhibition Dumb Type | Actions + Reflections' at Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, 2019 20, ©Dumb Type, photo: Kazuo Fukunaga, photo courtesy of the artist
This year’s installation focuses on the theme of ‘post-truth’, referring to a society in which personal feelings influence public opinion as opposed to the objective truth. In reference to the information environment where society is riddled with never-ending data, the exhibition attempts to reconsider our norms through an honest gaze further questioning how we understand, live, and die in such times.
Commissioner/Curator: Nada Ghandour
Exhibitor: Ayman Baalbaki, Danielle Arbid
Renders courtesy of Culture In Architecture
Acclaimed art historian Nada Ghandour flips the narrative and offers a counterpoint to a unidimensional perspective at the Lebanese Pavilion at this year’s Biennale. The exhibition The World in the Image of Man presents a glimpse into the pain and potential of Lebanon through an art lens.
Renders courtesy of Culture In Architecture
The Pavilion is influenced by global issues seen through the Lebanese context, inviting the visitor on a journey into the contemporary world through a theme, a city and artists Ayman Baalbaki and Danielle Arbid. The exhibition heavily references Beirut’s streets that are seemingly always under construction or attack, offering exhibition goers the experience of interacting with each other as well as the work on display. The scenography of the Pavilion will mirror Lebanon’s history and the nation’s unwavering hope coupled with the brutalist architecture in the form of an elliptical shell, evoking the eternal wish for unity.
Commissioner: Rosa Daniel, Chief Executive Officer National Arts Council Singapore
Curator: Ute Meta Bauer
Exhibitor: Shubigi Rao
Film still, 16th-century edition of Petrarch's work, censored in 4 different ways. Image courtesy of the artist.
Located on the second floor of the Sale d’Armi of the Arsenale, this year the National Arts Council Singapore commissioned artist Shunigi Rao and curator Ute Meta Bauer to represent Singapore at this year’s Biennale. The exhibition titled Pulp III “The Stories in the Pulp” points us to the different forms of courage in action, speech, documenting and sharing. The artist takes the approach of exhibiting a book, film and paper maze, making this year’s Pavilion a milestone exhibition that explores the uncertainty and persistence of endangered language, the futures of public and alternative libraries and the unity of regional print communities. The exhibition revolves around the literary movements raised and rewritten by humankind making the presentation a testament to humans and our ever-changing nature.
Cover: Jawi novel Qalam Press Singapore. Image courtesy of the artist
Pulp III represents the artist’s long-term aim to explore moments between readers, artists, writers, printers, academics, bibliophiles, shadow library activists, librarians and the defenders of print, speech and access to knowledge. The project continues to connect individuals and communities across regions whose challenges of accessing knowledge differ, with control over media and issues concerning privacy, data and access.
Commissioner: Auður Jörundsdóttir, Icelandic Art Center
Curator: Mónica Bello
Exhibitor: Sigurdur Gudjonsson
Magic circle: the Reykjavik-based artist in front of his 2021 light-and-sound work, FluorescentPhoto: Saga Sigurdardottir
Sigurdur Gudjonsson will represent Iceland at this year’s Venice Biennale. The artist is known for his powerful video pieces where visual; audio and space create an organic whole. The seasoned artist started his career during the vibrant artist-run experimental scene in Reykjavík that brought to the art scene a new form of expression. He is known for his dark and hypnotically moody videos which set him apart.
Sigurður Guðjónsson, Fluorescent 3, 2021. Photo courtesy of BERG Contemporary and the artist
Gudjonsson explores the potential of time-based media to create works of art that rhythmically engage with the viewer in a synaesthetic experience, linking vision and hearing in ways that extend one’s perceptual field and produce sensations ever felt before. This year’s Icelandic Pavilion will feature an immersive, dual projection piece in the historic Artiglierie building. The artist filed metal dust gathering around a magnet on a high speed 4K camera which was refined in post-production. The projections are accompanied by an atmospheric soundtrack which the artist created in collaboration with composer and sound technician Valgeir Sigurðsson.
Commissioner: Kateryna Chuyeva, Deputy Minister for European Integration of the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine
Curator: Lizaveta German, Maria Lanko, Borys Filonenko
Exhibitor: Pavlo Makov
A 3D rendering of Pavlo Makov’s Fountain of Exhaustion. Courtesy the artist.
Artist Pavlo Makov will be representing Ukraine at this year’s Biennale with The Fountain of Exhaustion. Acqua Alta. This exhibition presents a kinetic sculpture that speaks to infrastructural ruins, cultural erasure, climate collapse, and war will be the focal point of this year’s pavilion. This exhibition is a current parallel to the lives and situations of those involved.
Pavlo Makov, The Fountain of Exhaustion, 1995. Courtesy the artist
The Fountain of Exhaustion is made up of a series of funnels with running water. One funnel splits the course of the water, channelling it to the succeeding funnels that also split their water ration, this continues until the concluding funnel only receives droplets from its initial funnel. The exhibition is framed in relation to its staging at the Biennale, a key example of climate collapse and its effects being witnessed in Venice. The exhibition comments on the exhaustion of natural resources but also the quandary of political capital being leveraged against smaller former U.S.S.R countries. Not only is the sculpture a wonder to look at and reflect on, but the beauty of this kinetic sculpture is also its ability to take on the history of the environment it is staged within.
Commissioner: Meruyert Kaliyeva
Curator/Exhibitors: ORTA collective (Alexandra Morozova, Rusten Begenov, Darya Jumelya, Alexander Bakanov, Sabina Kuangaliyeva)
Venue: Spazio Arco, Dorsoduro 1485
Artist collective ORTA
This year marks Kazakhstan’s Venice Biennale debut. ORTA, a transdisciplinary collective will be representing the country with an exhibition presenting a project based on the ideas of celebrated Kazakhstan avant-garde artist Sergei Kalmykov. The collective consists of actress Alexandra Morozova, director Rustem Begenov, photo and video editor Darya Dzhumelya, and artists Alexander Bakanov with Sabina Kuangalieva.
ORTA collective, Alexandra Morozova inside the Circular Cardboard - Light Generator of Genius, 2022. Photo: ORTA collective. © ORTA collective / Courtesy of the Artist
The exhibition is dedicated to Sergei Kalmykov, the first contemporary artist who inspired generations of artists in the country with the spirit of freedom. The collective has been working with the artist’s texts and diaries for many years, implementing these ideas into their own work now to be presented at the biennale.
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