The 23rd International Exhibition of Triennale Milano opens to the public from 15 July to 11 December under the title Unknown Unknows. An Introduction to Mysteries and starts from the assumption that there are things that we do not know, but that are actually under our eyes

The 23rd International Exhibition curated by Ersilia Vaudo, astrophysicist and Chief Diversity Officer at kicks off on 15 July at the Triennale di Milano European Space Agency, together with the architect Francis Kéré, Pritzker for architecture 2022.

In line with the Triennale International Exhibitions tradition of dealing with urgent issues in a transversal and multidisciplinary way, this year's edition brings together some exhibitions, 23 national pavilions - 6 of which are dedicated to the continent African - with forays into the work of great masters in the twentieth century.

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The unknown: a reflection to let go

Set up on the first floor of the Muzio building as the nerve center of the new edition of the International Exhibition, the exhibition curated by astrophysics Ersilia Vaudo stages the mystery of what we do not know, the invisible processes that speak of a nature parallel, of physics of particles and of gravity quantum. In the words of Merleau-Ponty, the exhibition "makes the invisible visible".

She does it looking for a poetic way, also through the words of art. "To ensure that the unknown does not become an antagonist, but rather a reflection to let oneself go, an occasion of amazement or poetry", explains Ersilia Vaudo, "we have collected 500 works that put together, in a choral mode, the voices of artists, but also of architects, designers and researchers."

The dematerialization of the anthropocentric dimension

The route unfolds progressively along a semicircle. We start from an intimate perspective, with the installation of Yuri Suzuki: a digital sound work, proposed both to give the sense of an interconnected planet and to remind us that 5 senses are one of the traps for understanding the unknown. Gradually, the anthropocentric dimension is abandoned throughout the exhibition to reach realities that are inaccessible and then return to us and to the privilege of inhabiting this Earth.

We realize that we are a small piece of many pieces that are linked together. The exhibition reminds us of this from many different points of view: from Anish Kapoor to Tomàs Saraceno, to the original ESA images - a map of the cosmos, the best we have, which has an oval shape because it is a kind of planisphere billions of light years in diameter.

Among the works that make the language of the cosmos visible, there is the Arkenian Mirror by Luca Pozzi: an engineered table mirror with a particle detector, created in collaboration with the INFN (National Institute of Nuclear Physics) of Turin. A simple mirror, present in everyone's homes, which has been transformed into a small alien with two dots that light up when the particle from the stratosphere (muon) touches its surface. A swarm that constantly passes through us and which we are not aware of.

Mathematics is the only possibility of a connection with what we don't know we don't know

That of mathematics is a sub-track of the exhibition that is taken up in several points along the exhibition itinerary. There may be a form of resignation in the face of what we do not know. Mathematics, on the other hand, does not accept this possibility and gives us, through its language, worlds that we have not yet imagined.

And we, only afterwards, realize that they are reality. An example is the installation of Andrea Galvani. Another is the work of Protey Temen, a Russian artist who tackles the problem of mathematics also through the material: canvas.

In his work, mathematics is represented on canvases hung like clothes in the sun. From the work, an idea of ​​familiarity and complexity emerges, but also the feeling of feeling excluded, of not understanding, but, at the same time, of perceiving that mathematics is a world worth entering into.

A 3D printed display with recycled materials

The exhibition display was created by an industrial 3D printer directly on site. The Triennale has been transformed into a construction site, where Space Caviar, the design studio led by Joseph Grima, designed the supports for setting up the works, produced with a material that recycles rice waste, patented by the Italian company RiceHouse, recently awarded with the Compasso d'Oro ADI.

Each pedestal has its own precise location, determined by reasoning on the orbital shape of the space hosting the exhibition. The floor plan was digitally designed, interpreting the orbital shape of the Triennale building on the upper floor. A invisible point at the origin of the curve, hidden in the central shaft of the building, was used as a reference to determine the shape of the entire setting.

National holdings

For the first time, there is a strong presence of Africa in an International Exposition: among the 23 international participations present, the African continent is represented by 6 states (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda).

Francis Keré has created four installations, inside and outside the Triennale. Among these, The Future’s Present is a 12 meter high tower, located in the square in front of the Triennale, decorated with contemporary interpretations of traditional Burkina Faso architecture motifs.

While the installation Yesterday's Tomorrow built in the central square of the section of the exhibition that hosts international participations, is a tribute to the vernacular architecture of Burkina Faso. It consists of two walls that curve into each other, creating an intimate space that invites the visitor to reflect.

The Italian Pavilion: The tradition of the new

The exhibition curated by Marco Sammicheli, Director of the Triennale Italian Design Museum, with the Zaven studio, represents the Italian Pavilion.

Set up on the ground floor, in the long sleeve of the Palazzo dell'Arte, The tradition of the new is a historical exhibition that reinterprets the path that goes from the second half of the 1960s to end of the Nineties, from the 13th to the 19th Triennale, staging the research of Italian design: the body, the house, the city, clothing and materials. Still extremely valid questions to which no definitive answers have been given.

Other contributions: from music to theater

In addition to the thematic exhibition, the international pavilions and the Pavilion Italy, the 23rd International Exhibition hosts the World Reale exhibition, conceived by Hervé Chandès, General Artistic Director of the Fondation Cartier pour dell'arte contemporain.

An integral part of the event are also the installations and special projects involving art historians Giovanni Agosti and Jacopo Stoppa, the musician and writer Francesco Bianconi, the philosopher Emanuele Coccia, the researcher and professor of the ABC Department of the Politecnico di Milano Ingrid Paoletti, the artist and Grand Invité of Triennale 2021-2024 Romeo Castellucci, the master of architecture and design < strong> Andrea Branzi , with the architect Lapo Lani.

The harmony of feeling part of the whole

Starting from the language of particles, progressing through matter, energy, the cosmos and galaxies, the exhibition reminds us that we are all at the same time: we are made of particles, we are computerized beings, we are devices that live in the space of the galaxy.

The works exhibited make us feel part of the whole that surrounds us. At a time when knowledge is fragmented, there are dangers of wars, scarcity of energy resources, climate crisis, Unknown Unknowns is a point of view that gives hope, which offers a presumed out of harmony perspective. The difficulty is that to do this, we must trade the centrality that man has in all these processes.