From 23 April, the Venice Biennale curated by Cecilia Alemani will tell about a world in which everyone can become something else. Between hybrid bodies, time capsules and artificial natures, The Milk of Dreams tells the end of anthropocentrism

La Biennale 2022, curated by Cecilia Alemani (April 23-November 27) will invite reflection and change that starts from the human body and fragments, disperses, hybridises it, to answer the most urgent questions of current affairs: those on the relationship that binds us to technology, nature and other species. All together in a single world within which, for some reason, we have always felt at the center.

The 59th Venice Biennale is above all women

The 59th International Art Exhibition of Venice - from Saturday 23 April to Sunday 27 November 2022 at the Giardini and the Arsenale - sows doubt and hope through the works of 213 artists, women for the vast majority, 58 nations, 80 new productions, 1433 works , including large installations, videos, canvases, photographs and a special format that engages several generations in dialogue.

It will be a great review that Cecilia Alemani, appointed curator in January 2020 just before the pandemic, set up "from the porthole of a closet in New York", he tells, that is, from that strange window on the world that digital opens up to us. A doing away from studio visits and travels, "which however triggered confessional conversations with artists", she says, "and created a sense of end-of-the-world intimacy that dyed the sense of the exhibition".

Where does the theme of the 2022 Biennale, the Milk of Dreams come from?

The milk of dreams, this is the title of the 2022 Biennale, cites a children's book by Leonora Carrington, a surrealist artist who, during the Second World War, fled to Mexico from England. Here, in the 1950s, she began drawing fantastic stories of hybrid creatures on the walls of her house, for her children, and then collected them in a notebook.

Mutant beings who tell of a world where everyone can change and become something else. “It is precisely from that intimate dialogue with the artists that the reflections of the Biennale were born”, says Alemani. Yes, because the exhibition starts with some nice questions (standing ovations) and makes us put into play, makes us reflect, sows doubts and hopes through the poetry that every artist knows how to get right at us.

Women and non-binary individuals

"The exhibition has a large majority of female artists and non-binary individuals", says Alemani, "a choice that reflects the international panorama of great creative ferment of those who are putting the figure of man at the center of the world in crisis".

How is the definition of human changing? What are the differences between plant, animal, human and non-human? What are our responsibilities towards our fellowmen, other life forms and the planet? What would life be like without us? Existential issues distilled, by Alemani, in three themes: the representation of bodies and their metamorphosis, the relationship between individuals and technologies, the connection between bodies and earth.

Art in capsules

The milk of dreams runs through history, because between the Central Pavilion and the Arsenale alternates five small exhibitions called Capsules, which put works from the 20th century in dialogue with the works of those who, today, carry on research following the same themes. An encounter between generations set in timeless atmospheres designed by the Italian designer duo FormaFantasma.

From The witch's cradle, the first capsule, metamorphic and ambiguous bodies emerge that subvert clichés, such as those of Leonor Fini. Bodies that rebel against classical representations such as those of the historian Carol Rama and those distorted, among contemporary artists, by Christina Quarles. From the hybrid sculptures of Andra Ursuta to the tangled concrete bodies of Sara Enrico and the small hyper-realistic canvases with epithelial details by Chiara Enzo.

In The technologies of enchantment, the second capsule, the relationship between body and technology is staged, and the works of artists such as Nanda Vigo and Grazia Varisco are combined with Ulla Wiggen's computer portraits. While The body orbits, the third capsule, artists, intellectuals and writers use language as an instrument of emancipation. Among the big names Paula Rego, who dedicates her work to women's rights, Cecilia Vincuña, who will create a large site specific installation dedicated to the fragile ecosystem of the Venetian lagoon, and Alexandra Pirici with a choreography, always accessible, which will talk about symbiotic relationships and parasitic between individuals.

At the Arsenale and at the Corderie the relationship between individuals and land is staged. In the first capsule, under the title A leaf, a pumpkin, a shell, a net, a bag, a shoulder strap, a saddlebag, a bottle, a pot, a box, a container, the history of the birth of human civilization and technology. On display anthropomorphic sculptures, such as the uterine ones by Ruth Asawa, obtained by weaving wire and large installations such as the great earth labyrinth in which to pass through, by Colombian Delcy Morelos.

In the last capsule, The seduction of a cyborg, the exhibition will become less and less human and more synthetic with the monumental and fluid works of Marguerite Humeau, together with those of Lynn Hershman Leeson, who in a video celebrates the cyborg's birthday, and Diego Marcon, who shows a world in which the characters are hidden by artificial masks, up to the entropic garden of Precious Okoyomon.

In the Pavilion of Applied Arts, the collaboration with Victoria & amp; Albert Museum in London takes place, where Sophia Al-Maria presents a video that explores the museum's collection of automata. And in Forte Marghera there will be a new project by the Italian Elisa Giardina Papa, which weaves Sicilian traditions on modern and post-apocalyptic counter-scenarios, shot in Gibellina Nuova. Within the exhibition there will also be Simnikiwe Buhlungu, Ambra Castagnetti, Andro Eradze and Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, the four winners of the Biennale College. call.

"The milk of dreams is not an exhibition on the pandemic, but it inevitably records the convulsions of our times", says Alemani, "in these moments art and artists help us to imagine new forms of coexistence and infinite new possibilities of transformation".

Cover photo: Alexandra Pirici, Aggregate, 2017–2019. Photo Andrei Dinu. Courtesy the Artist. © Alexandra Pirici