The Venice Biennale
⬤ Venice 23 Apr - 27 Nov 2022
In Venice, global alliances unfurl and national borders are ratified. There are also rare convergences of bourgeois art-loving tourists and insiders LARPing as art professionals who are, in reality, visiting the island for spritzes and a quasi-holiday (i.e., me). By the very structure of the Biennale’s national pavilions and the central exhibition, we’re given a rare opportunity to see soft, cultural diplomacy and geopolitics play out in real time. This year’s iteration saw the 2022 Biennale’s director Cecilia Alemani and Roberto Cicutto, President of La Biennale di Venezia, both put forward their support for war-ravaged Ukraine and condemning Russia’s actions throughout the exhibition’s printed collateral. Russia’s pavilion lies dormant with the curator and artists resigning from their posts prior to the biennale’s opening—a mark of solidarity with Ukraine.
At the 59th La Biennale di Venezia central pavilion’s helm is Italian-born Alemani, whose day job is the Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director and Chief Curator for High Line Art in New York City. Opened in 2009, the High Line is an experiment in gentrification, bringing commissioned artworks and performances to a former railroad-turned-linear park. Alemani’s most notable project since her 2011 appointment was the installation of Zoe Leonard’s poignant I want a President (1992), just weeks prior to Donald Trump’s electoral victory in 2016. At Venice, the curator takes her cue from The Milk of Dreams, a children’s book by the surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. In Carrington’s fiction the human world and the animal kingdom fold into one. For Alemani, The Milk of Dreams’ loreis a proto premonition beyond the Anthropocene and toward the post-human—a speculative utopian proposition for the world’s future.