Cecilia Alemani, curator and artistic director of Biennale Arte 2022, the 59th International Art Exhibition in Venice, along with Roberto Cicutto, president of La Biennale di Venezia, have announced the title and theme of the next exhibition: The Milk of Dreams.
The title takes its name from an illustrated book (ostensibly) for children by the late British-Mexican surrealist painter and storyteller Leonora Carrington. Published in English for the first time in 2017, the author/illustrator “describes 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,” explained Alemani. “The exhibition takes us on an imaginary journey through metamorphoses of the body and definitions of humanity.”
Named curator and artistic director of the 2022 Venice Biennale in January 2020, the New York-based Alemani currently serves as director and chief curator of High Line Art, the public art program at the wildly popular disused elevated-railway-turned-park that weaves throughout the West Side of Manhattan. Alemani, who curated the Italian Pavilion at the 2017 edition of the Biennale, is the first Italian woman to serve in the head curatorial role at the exhibition, and the fifth woman overall.
As Alemani elaborated in a statement, the exhibition will focus on a trio of themes in particular: “the representation of bodies and their metamorphoses, the relationship between individuals and technologies, and the connection between bodies and the Earth,” she said, adding:
“This Exhibition is grounded in many conversations with artists which took place over the past months. The questions that kept emerging seem to capture this moment in history, when the very survival of the species is threatened, but also to sum up doubts that pervade the sciences, arts, and myths of our time. How is the definition of the human changing? What constitutes life, and what differentiates animals, plants, humans, and non-humans? What are our responsibilities towards the planet, other people, and the other organisms we live with? And what would life and the Earth look like without us?”
Postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 59th edition of the Venice Biennale is set to open to the public next year on April 23 at the Giardini, Arsenale, and other sites around Venice. It concludes on November 27, 2022. Also pushed back by the COVID crisis, the Hashim Sarkis-curated 2021 Architecture Biennale, entitled How will we live together?, is currently underway and will close on November 21.
Cicutto noted that Alemani’s timely theme complements the one established by Sarkis:
“Cecilia Alemani focuses her ‘imaginary journey through metamorphoses of the body and definitions of humanity’ on a series of questions about the ‘doubts that pervade the sciences, arts, and myths of our time,’” he said. “The title of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition, curated by Hashim Sarkis, is also a question: ‘How will we live together?’. These two choices are the product of the current times, which lack all certainty and burden humanity with immense responsibilities.”
“The restiveness and assumption of responsibility inherent in the artistic act were the inspiration for the exhibition, which told much of the story of La Biennale,” added Cicutto. “Today, the starting point for the next Biennale Arte seems to be the reinvention of new and more sustainable relations between individuals and the universe we live in.”