by Nadia Egan // Apr. 8, 2022
Returning from an extended break due to the pandemic, the Venice Biennale of Art is set to begin later this month, launching its 59th edition. Taking its title from a book by Leonora Carrington, ‘The Milk of Dreams’ will be curated by Cecilia Alemani and feature over 200 artists from 58 countries. The exhibition stems from many conversations with artists held over the last few years and thematises the representation of bodies and their metamorphoses, the relationship between individuals and technologies and the connection between humans and the Earth.
‘The Milk of Dreams’ will feature contemporary works and new projects produced specifically for the biennale, situated in dialogue with historic works from the 19th century onwards. The centre of the exhibition, located on the lower level of the Central Pavilion, will feature a collection of artworks by women of the historical avant-garde movements, including Eileen Agar, Claude Cahun, Dorothea Tanning and Remedios Varo. Similar themes conjured by Surrealist artists will return in the work of contemporary artists on view in the other galleries of the Central Pavilion. The mutant bodies of Aneta Grzeszykowska and Andra Ursuţa will suggest new forms of the organic and the artificial, while the ties between human and machine are further examined in the works of Agnes Denes and Lillian Schwartz. Moving through the central exhibition, visitors will additionally have the chance to discover five smaller, historical sections. Conceived like time capsules, these shows within the show explore this year’s key themes and provide additional tools of investigation and introspection.
As opposed to past editions, this year’s Biennale will include a majority of women and gender non-conforming artists, a choice that reflects the international art scene and deliberately rethinks cis-male centrality in the history of art and contemporary culture. Making history for both the British and US pavilions, Sonia Boyce and Simone Leigh will be the first Black women to represent their respective countries at the Biennale, with works encompassing topics such as inclusiveness, experimentation and Black feminist history. The 59th edition will also welcome first-time entries from the Republic of Cameroon, Namibia, Nepal, the Sultanate of Oman and Uganda.
Among the highly-anticipated entries this year is Marco Fusinato with the Australian pavilion. Known for blurring the lines between music, noise and art, his brash installations remain his most memorable pieces. With previous work such as ‘Aetheric Plexus (Broxen X)’—wherein Fusinato blasted crowds with 36,000 watts of white light and 105 decibels of white noise—visitors are awaiting a similar experience of intensity.
The dreamlike, candy-coloured multimedia art of Jakob Lena Knebl and Ashley Hans Scheirl is an equally anticipated entrant this year. Representing the Austrian pavilion, the pair will attempt to “undermine the hierarchies or art and design” found in traditional institutions, as the pavilion becomes a stage upon which both visitors and the objects on show become part of a larger work themed around gender, desire, humour and sensuality.
According to Alemani, the Biennale will sum up all the things we have missed over the last two years—the freedom to meet people from all over the world, the possibility of travel, the joy of spending time together, the practice of difference, translation, incomprehension and communion. ‘The Milk of Dreams’ will not be about the pandemic, but rather an exhibition that ultimately registers the upheavals of our era.
La Biennale di Venezia
Group Show: ‘The Milk of Dreams’
Exhibition: Apr. 23 – Nov. 27, 2022
Admission: €25,50 (reduced €20,50)
Giardini della Biennale, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy, click here for map
Arsenale di Venezia, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy, click here for map