Biennale di Venezia 2022


Maria de Juan

La Biennale di Venezia, a total success

The Venice Biennale has been for 127 years one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. The mega event that floods the city of canals and gondolas has broken the record for visitors and press.

The 59th International Art Show, entitled «Il latte dei sogni», curated by Cecilia Alemani, with multiple pavilions and projects, closed on November 27.

A Biennial that this year reached a record of public participation, with more than 800,000 tickets sold, in addition to the 23,000 during the pre-opening. Considering the longer duration of the exhibition (may to November), the increase is substantial compared to 2019.

Venice Biennale

This edition has been a greater public success (despite the low number of visitors from Asia) and has captured the attention of the Italian and international press.

The Biennale wanted to guarantee the presence of Ukrainian artists, supporting the construction of the Ukrainian Pavilion and making available a free space in the Gardens, «Piazza Ukraine», for the presentation of works in any format (digitally transmitted), by artists who remained in their country and are directly involved in resisting Russian aggression.

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In the Biennale that returned after the pandemic, there was a lot of black culture and tribal taste with applied arts such as embroidery and graphic language, past and future. And there was a lot of colour, all the colours in the world. But the most special thing is that it provides a different look, as if the thread of history was looking for something that you thought you had never seen. They call it the Women’s Biennial because among almost 1,500 works, the female presence is a record with 80%.

We have seen futuristic settings, dream worlds, masks and mythological creatures, within light and darkness, between silence and noise, enjoying the mysteries and incomprehensible secrets of beauty. It is the first time that the exhibition is dedicated mainly to women.

Venice Biennale

There were many other firsts this year. Never before has a black British artist won the Golden Lion for Best National Pavilion. And the doors were shut to Russia but a red carpet was offered to Ukraine.

The great protagonist of the Biennial is Leonora Carrington, English noblewoman, brilliant painter and writer of the Surrealist movement. The title of the sample is taken from one of her books.

It’s fairy tales wrapped in a dreamlike dimension, which transports us on an imaginary journey through the metamorphosis of the body in search of our own identity. The fantastic innocence of childhood seeks shelter in the visionary universe of dreams, with a playful dimension, both human and monstrous. In this flight into enchantment, this imaginative vision of a transfigured reality of popular roots. The «cradle of witches», is where Leonora Carrington, Dorothea Tanning, Remedios Varo and Paula Rego enrolled in the magma of the Surrealist group. Witches of the brush and spells of art that intertwine with popular fantasies and the nostalgia of the Third World.

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Curator Cecilia Alemani is an italian based in New York. She underlined the difficulties in staging the event at such a complex historical moment:

«It was a very long road, which took us through a pandemic, a cruel war and a collective sense of uncertainty. Organising this event was a great adventure. I conceived this exhibition remotely, with hundreds of zoom studio visits with artists from around the world. Very few were able to come to see the exhibition spaces. No one knew if the works would arrive in Venice on time. Although things now seem to be back to some kind of normality, it has been an extraordinary effort with more than two years of titanic group work. Being able to open on time is a miracle.»

The exhibition in numbers

  • 213 invited artists
  • 58 countries of origin of the artists
  • 180 first participations in the Biennial
  • 1500 works of art
  • 2 Special Projects:
    • Pavilion for Applied Arts in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London
    • Special Project Forte Marghera in Mestre
  • 13 Art Encounters
  • 80 national participations
  • 27 national participations in the historic pavilions of the Gardens (Giardini)
  • 26 national participations in the ships of the Arsenal (Arsenale) with artists from Italy
  • 27 Samples of National Heritage in the historic center of Venice
  • 5 Participations of nations present for the first time:
    • Republic of Cameroon,
    • Namibia
    • Nepal
    • Oman
    • Uganda
  • 3 Republics participating for the first time with their own flag:
    • Kazakhstan
    • Kyrgyzstan
    • Uzbekistan
  • 30 side events throughout the city
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Golden Lions Awards

«Leone d’Oro» is the Biennial Award for Lifetime Achievement attributed to two artists:

  • the German Katharina Fritsch
  • the Chilean Cecilia Vicuña

The International Jury, made up of Adrienne Edwards (USA), President of the Jury, Lorenzo Giusti (Italy), Julieta González (Mexico), Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (Cameroon), Susanne Pfeffer (Germany), decided to award the official prizes to:

  • Leone d’Oro for Best National Participation in Great Britain, Sonia Boyce: “Feeling Her Way”
  • 2 special mentions to France and Uganda (new participation)
  • Leone d’Oro for the best participant: Simone Leigh
  • Leone d’Argento (Silver Lion) for young promise: Ali Cherri
  • 2 special mentions to the participants Lynn Hershman Leeson and Shuvinai Ashoona
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Venice is no doubt, a key cultural centre in all senses, not only for painting and sculpture but also for other forms of culture. We are proud to see that there are really six Biennales. The mega art event, known simply as La Biennale (from April to November) is the sister of other major gatherings:

  • Biennale Musica (September)
  • Biennale Cinema (August and September)
  • Biennale Danza (July)
  • Biennale Teatro (June and July)
  • Biennale Architettura (May-November).

«The Milk of Dreams» aspires to be an optimistic exhibition, celebrating art and its capacity to create alternative cosmologies and new conditions of existence. Roberto Cicuta, President of the fair, resumes its philosophy:

«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.»

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