The International Biennale of Contemporary Art in Venice runs until November 27, 2022 and you should not miss it under any circumstances! The theme chosen by the curator, Cecilia Alemani, is “The Milk of Dreams” taken from the children’s book by Leonora Carrington, which gives a maternal, poetic and sensual tone to the event. Unlike previous biennials exhibiting mainly male artists, 90% of the artists presented this year are women. Another peculiarity: nearly half of the artists exhibited died, a much higher proportion than usual. Indeed, many artists in the central exhibition are associated with the avant-garde of the 20th century. Under-recognized in their time, the 2022 Biennale corrects this error and highlights their work. It is impossible to detail in a few lines the 1500 works from more than 200 artists, so here is a selection of the essentials of this Biennale.
On the Giardini side, the Belgian pavilion is to be highlighted for its universality and its lightness. Mexican artist of Belgian origin Francis Alÿs presents ‘The Nature of the Game’, a selection of short films featuring children playing on four different continents. Children’s laughter isn’t normally welcome at art exhibitions, but here it takes center stage, filling the Belgian pavilion with a liberating joyful cacophony.
Equally inclusive, Sonia Boyce presents in the British pavilion ‘Feeling Her Way’. Boyce rose to prominence as a key figure in the British black arts movement of the 1980s. This new work explores the potential of collaborative play as a pathway to innovation. Boyce’s installation features five black musicians, invited to improvise, interact, and play with their voices, thereby embodying a feeling of freedom, power but also vulnerability.
For a more meditative moment, visit the Maltese pavilion where a dimly lit monumental installation revisits the beheading of Saint John the Baptist by Caravaggio. Drops of molten steel fall into pools of water, choreographed to Gregorian chants. Each pearl of light poetically symbolizes the possibility of fluidity and transformation.
In addition to the artists present in the Giardini and the Arsenale, three places are worth your visit.
The Doge’s Palace where the contemporary German artist Anselm Kiefer confronts his burning canvases with the frescoes of 16th century masters such as Tintoretto, Vincentino or Giovane. Gorgeous!
In the Palazzo Contarini Polignac, you will discover the works of the South Korean artist, Chun Kwang Young. It is a socio-ecological manifesto embodied by a recycled paper initially made by hand from mulberry trees using traditional techniques in East Asia and whose durability can extend up to 1300 years. In ecology, interdependence is an absolute factor for the reproduction and survival of all living beings. Therefore, interdependence is the DNA of healing that overcomes social disconnect. It is also a strong constraining force that makes art live up to its role, mediator between different discourses for human reflections.
And, finally, don’t leave Venice without visiting the Guggenheim Foundation. With “Surrealism and Magic”, this foundation tackles a subject that is not very much covered, namely the marked interest of surrealist artists for esotericism. The subject seems obvious, however, as the works of these creators explore interiority, the unconscious and the liberated imagination. In a hundred paintings and sculptures ranging from René Magritte to Leonora Carrington (the muse of this Biennale), the exhibition reveals fantastic worlds and characters!
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