The Art Biennale 2022, curated by Cecilia Alemani, is inspired by Leonora Carrington's fairytale book, The Milk of Dreams. The British painter and writer, fascinated by surrealism, in her works tells us of fantastic beasts, a symbol of her inner struggles, but also of the power of the imagination that allows us to transform ourselves and become what we want to be.
Taking inspiration from this fascinating metaphor, we go to the discovery of Venice Art Biennale 2022 through the work of some of the artists who have chosen “animals” as protagonists of their art in the Lagoon. Walking along Riva degli Schiavoni in the direction of the Ticket Office, in the public Gardens of the Marinaressa we meet gigantic gorillas, bears and lions. They are the acrylic creatures of Richard Orlinski, a French artist who brought his Wild Kong to the coolest locations on the planet, under the motto Born Wild, and which, silhouetted against the light on the San Marco Basin, are certainly very suggestive.
Upon entering the Biennale, it is worth starting from the Central Pavilion of the Gardens where the polyester elephant by Katharina Fritsch, Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of this edition, strongly wanted by Alemani, will welcome you, a tribute to the history of the Biennale. In the early days of the first edition of 1895, in fact, the designated location was in Castello‘s Gardens where the old building that housed the elephant Toni, an attraction for the Venetian families of the time, had to be demolished.
Continuing, we meet the other Lion for Lifetime Achievement of this edition, the Chilean artist and poetess Cecilia Vicuña, author of the hypnotic and wonderful work Leoparda de Ojitos of 1977. Walking through the various rooms, there are many other animals that amuse us and induce reflection at the same time, like the disturbing 111 ceramic sharks or the flies by the German artist Jana Euler.
Among the various pavilions of the Gardens, the one of Korea stands out with the giant snake created by the artist Yunchul Kim, a reflection on the processes of transformation of matter and the circular movements of celestial bodies, the origin of geometry and sacred ancestral rituals. A little far ahead, the centaurs of Uffe Isolotto, protagonists of the Danish Pavilion, lead us to question ourselves about the values of modernity.
After the visit to the Gardens, you can stop for a lunch in the sun at La Barrique Wine Bar, in the nearby Via Garibaldi, where the Friulian host Marco Simonetti, a great wine expert, will prepare you an excellent San Daniele ham, produced by small Friulian artisans, and many artfully prepared cicchetti (local tapas) using, for some recipes, the Apulian frisella bread to maintain their crunchiness.
We then continue towards the Arsenale where the most striking pavilions of the exhibition, from an architectural point of view, unfold, those housed within the ancient Corderie, the Artillery and in the outdoor spaces of the Gaggiandre and the Garden of the Virgins. Here other dream creatures await you including, in the Latvian pavilion, the irreverent ceramics of the artistic duo Ingūna Skuja and Melissa D. Braden who accompany us through the rooms of their home recreated within the exhibition space.
Spectacular and yet refined is the nearby pavilion that hosts the work To See The Earth Before the End of the World by the Nigerian-American artist Precious Okoyomon who created a forest of sculptures made up of living matter such as earth, shrubs, and wild flowers. Among the elements used we also find Kudzu, an Asiatic plant introduced by the United States on Mississippi farms in 1876 to counteract soil erosion caused by the intensive cultivation of cotton. Later revealed as a harmful pest, it itself is a metaphor both of the diaspora with nature and a denunciation of all forms of slavery.
And so we come to the most dangerous animal, man, the protagonist of the Italian Pavilion. The heroine of the chronicles of this edition, it is the first time, in fact, that this national space has been entrusted to a single artist. It is the Roman Gian Maria Tosatti who, with incredible scenographic poetry, recounts the industrial boom of the second post-war period and its decline through various rooms, inviting us, with goosebumps, to ask us what its cultural legacy is or, worse, if we can produce one in the era we are living in. With a simply wonderful title, History of Night and Destiny of Comets, the installation greets us with a positive message carried by a cloud of fireflies.
At the end of the visit, it is time to reflect on the thousands of suggestions received and discuss our favorite pavilion. Not far from the Arsenale there we are spoilt for choice as the Castello district is the protagonist of the recent food and wine renaissance of Venice. Try CoVino, which combines the atmosphere of a traditional bacaro (local wine bar) with show cooking, or the Hostaria Castello, for an international design mood.
Enjoy your visit!