September 27, 2022

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the venice biennale unveils full list of artists for main exhibition, titled ‘the milk of dreams’

the 59th international art exhibition of la biennale di venezia


the 59th venice art biennale will open its doors to the public on saturday, april 23, 2022, under the title ‘the milk of dreams’. curated by cecilia alemani, the international exhibition will unfold in the central pavilion of the giardini, and in the corderie, artiglierie, and the outdoor spaces of the gaggiandre and giardino delle vergini at the arsenale complex. ‘the milk of dreams’ brings together 213 artists from 58 countries, whose work will be displayed within a series of architectural spaces designed by formafantasma. more than 180 of these artists have never participated in the international art exhibition until now. what’s more, for the first time in its 127- year history, the biennale will include a majority of women and gender non-conforming artists. according to alemani, this choice ‘reflects an international art scene full of creative ferment and a deliberate rethinking of man’s centrality in the history of art and contemporary culture.’

jane graverol, l’école de la vanité, 1967. photo renaud schrobiltgen. collection anne boschmans. courtesy schirn kunsthalle frankfurt. © SIAE



biennale arte 2022: THE MILK OF DREAMS


‘the milk of dreams takes its title from a book by leonora carrington (1917–2011),’ cecilia alemani explains in her statement, ‘in which the surrealist artist describes a magical world where life is constantly re-envisioned through the prism of the imagination. it is a world where everyone can change, be transformed, become something or someone else. the exhibition “the milk of dreams” takes leonora carrington’s otherworldly creatures, along with other figures of transformation, as companions on an imaginary journey through the metamorphoses of bodies and definitions of the human.


this exhibition is grounded in many conversations with artists held in the last few years. the questions that kept emerging from these dialogues seem to capture this moment in history when the very survival of the species is threatened, but also to sum up many other inquiries that pervade the sciences, arts, and myths of our time. how is the definition of the human changing? what constitutes life, and what differentiates plant and animal, human and non-human? what are our responsibilities towards the planet, other people, and other life forms? and what would life look like without us? these are some of the guiding questions for this edition of the biennale arte, which focuses on three thematic areas in particular: the representation of bodies and their metamorphoses; the relationship between individuals and technologies; the connection between bodies and the earth.’

the venice biennale unveils full list of artists for main exhibition, titled 'the milk of dreams'
andra ursuţa, predators ‘R us, 2020. courtesy the artist; david zwirner; ramiken, new york. © andra ursuta



‘the milk of dreams’ was conceived during a period of enormous instability, since it coincided with the outbreak and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced la biennale di venezia to postpone this edition by one year – an event that had only occurred during the two world wars since 1895. ‘the very fact that this exhibition can open is somewhat extraordinary: its inauguration is not exactly the symbol of a return to normal life, but rather the outcome of a collective effort that seems almost miraculous,’ adds alemani. the exhibition will bring together a total of1433 works and objects, presenting contemporary works and new projects conceived specifically for the biennale arte in dialogue with historic works from the 19th century on. discover the full list of participating artists here.


‘cecilia alemani’s exhibition imagines new harmonies, hitherto unthinkable cohabitations and surprising solutions,’ said president roberto cicutto, ‘precisely because they distance themselves from anthropocentrism. a journey at the end of which there are no losers, but where new alliances are brought forth, generated by a dialogue between different beings (some perhaps even produced by machines) with all the natural elements that our planet (and perhaps others as well) presents to us. the travelling companions (the artists) who accompany the curator all come from very different worlds. cecilia tells us that there is a majority of female artists and non-binary subjects, a choice I endorse because it reflects the richness of the creative force of our time.’

the venice biennale unveils full list of artists for main exhibition, titled 'the milk of dreams'
candice lin, seeping, rotting, resting, weeping, exhibition view from walker art center, minneapolis, 2021. courtesy the artist; françois ghebaly gallery



the exhibition will also include 80 national participations in the historic pavilions at the giardini, at the arsenale and in the city center of venice. five countries will be participating for the first time at the biennale arte: republic of cameroon, namibia, nepal, sultanate of oman, and uganda. republic of kazakhstan, republic of kirghizistan and republic of uzbekistan participate for the first time with their own pavilion. meanwhile, a series of collateral events, which are admitted by the curator and promoted by non–profit national and international bodies and institutions, will take place in several locations around the city of venice.

the venice biennale unveils full list of artists for main exhibition, titled 'the milk of dreams'
geumhyung jeong, toy prototype, 2021. installation view, national museum of modern and contemporary art, korea. photo kanghyuk lee. © geumhyung jeong


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