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Cecilia Alemani. Photo: Andrea Avezzù/La Biennale di Venezia.
Cecilia Alemani. Photo: Andrea Avezzù/La Biennale di Venezia.

Venice Biennale 2022 Title and Themes Announced

“The Milk of Dreams” has been revealed as the title of the Fifty-Ninth Venice Biennale, to be held in 2022. The name—which was announced today by the event’s artistic director and chief curator Cecilia Alemani in conjunction with Biennale president Roberto Cicutto—is taken from a 1950s children’s book by Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. Carrington first drew the images contained in the book, including those of a man with wings for ears and a Janus-faced character named Señor Mustache Mustache, on the walls of her house in Mexico in an effort to entertain her own children.

“Carrington’s stories describe a world set free, brimming with possibilities,” said Alemani in a statement. “But [the book] is also the allegory of a century that imposed intolerable pressure on the individual, forcing Carrington into a life of exile: locked up in mental hospitals, an eternal object of fascination and desire, yet also a figure of startling power and mystery.” Alemani noted that the overarching exhibition concept was based in conversations she has had with artists since being appointed Biennale curator in January 2020, with questions arising including “How is the definition of the human changing? What constitutes life, and what differentiates animals, plants, humans and non-humans? What are our responsibilities towards the planet, other people, and the different organisms we live with? And what would life look like without us?”

Alemani also cited three themes for the Biennale’s main exhibition: “the representation of bodies and their metamorphoses; the relationship between individuals and technologies; the connection between bodies and the Earth.” Acknowledging the “torn, riven world” in which the exhibition is being planned, Alemani nevertheless promised “an optimistic exhibition, which celebrates art and its capacity to create alternative cosmologies and new conditions of existence.”

Originally planned to take place this year, the Fifty-Ninth Venice Biennale was postponed owing to the Covid-19 crisis and is now expected to run from April 23 to November 27, 2022.