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An overview: New Renaissances at Venice Biennale 2022

Valentina Buzzi

May 23, 2022

 

Installation view of Stefano Boeri Architetti, Hanji House, 2021-2022 as part of Chun Kwang Young: Times Reimagined, a collateral event for the Venice Biennale 2022. 
© Alice Clancy

 

 

The unique fascination that belongs to Venice is one of atemporal manner. Few cities can pride themselves on being able to stop time and bring their visitors back to one of the greatest periods of Western modernity: the Renaissance. 
 
Emerging from the darkness of the middle ages, and nurtured by humanist thinking, the 15th century marked the beginning of a new kind of modernity, one that saw an unbelievable advancement in any sector of mankind. The arts, the sciences, literature and even technology flourished as never before, embodying a new zeitgeist which would see, for the first time, the centrality of man. 
 
Venice, alongside Florence and other Italian cities, nurtured the arts through new unique ways, paving the foundation for modern figurative painting, sculpture and architecture. The results fascinate us to date.

 

The strong bond between the "floating city" and the arts is an everlasting one, evolving through centuries, movements and artistic revolutions until contemporary times. Today, whereas many would want to visit Venice to experience a romantic reconnection with the past, others might want to jump on a gondola and head to one of the greatest art events on the global scale: the Venice Biennale. 
 
Born in 1895 out of the willingness to intensify the artistic vibrancy of the city, the Venice Biennale is today what many refer to as “the olympics of the art world”. Every two years, a nominated curator selects more than a hundred artists from across the globe to exhibit in the venues of Arsenale and Giardini, following a specifically curated theme. 

 

 

The Milk of Dreams, published by NYR Children’s Collection, May 2017
Courtesy of NYR Children’s Collection

 

 

This year, the Biennale arrived at its 59th edition, which opened in late April with a revolutionary angle: in the timeless city which nurtured the roots of Renaissance, artists were asked to imagine new ones. Inspired by surrealist author and artist Leonora Carrington, Cecilia Alemani - curator of this edition -  worked closely with 213 artists from over 50 countries, urging them to re-envision life through the prism of imagination. 
 
After the world stopped for over two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the necessity of imagining possible futures became central for the curatorial rationale. Harmonic and hybrid spaculations became pivotal parts of this spirit, born out of the willingness to question our position within the world. Surrealism thus becomes a lens of reading, connecting perhaps to its past role in the avant-garde years in shaking the boundaries of our perception. 

 

In the same city that witnessed the creation of a new paradigm in art and civil society, this 59th Biennale (together with its collateral events) asked for another paradigm shift. “The Milk of Dreams”, the title is borrowed from Leonora Carrington’s book of children tales, an occasion for welcoming speculations about possible futures where humanity may not be so central anymore, learning the means and possibilities of co-existing. Re-thinking and re-mixing into new cosmologies, the subject of society, nature, and technology became protagonists in the Biennale.
 
The imagination of new renaissances finds its place across the whole city. Between the main exhibition and the collateral events, traditional configurations of thoughts are de-constructed and re-assembled into new ideas. The whole process is witnessed by the same walls which already saw history evolving in unexpected ways five hundred years ago, leading to an unexpected bridge between past and present. 
 
Fascinated by the possibility of art becoming a tool to suggest, evoke and break boundaries, hereafter we prepared a selection which highlights this sentiment of change through key artists and exhibitions across the city.

 

 


 

The 59th edition of Venice Biennale runs from Apr 23 - 27 Nov 2022, curated by Cecilia Alemani - the first Italian woman to hold the position. The Exhibition takes place in the Central Pavilion (Giardini) and in the Arsenale, including 213 artists from 58 countries; 180 of these artists are participating for the first time in the International Exhibition. 80 countries are participating in the historic Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the city center of Venice. There are also 30 Collateral Events around the city adding a wide range of diversity of artistic practices to the main exhibition.