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The Venice Biennale’s Main Exhibition Will Challenge the Idea of ‘Men as the Center of the Universe’

The 213 artists, who are largely female or gender nonconforming, span more than 150 years of art history.

Women and gender nonconforming artists will take center stage at this year’s Venice Biennale exhibition, which is set to challenge the dominating role of men in society and consider relationships between humans, technology, and different life forms on earth.

“The Milk of Dreams,” the international art exhibition curated by Italian-born, New York-based curator Cecilia Alemani, will feature 213 artists from 58 countries, including 26 Italian artists, in what will be the most nationally diverse line-up of any edition of the show. Many featured artists come from countries or regions that were normally not represented at the Venice Biennale, Alemani told press during an online conference on Wednesday, February 2.

The exhibition will also address a post-pandemic future through a dialog between historic and contemporary artworks. The show is set to include scores of fresh positions spanning more than 150 years: a total of 180 artists, dead and alive, are taking part for the first time, and there will be 80 newly commissioned productions.

Nan Goldin, Barbara Kruger, and Lousie Lawler, are included among the 213 artists list, alongside rising stars Jamian Juliano-Villani, Tau Lewis, and Christina Quarles. Historic artists, including entertainer and activist Josephine Baker and 19th century painter Georgiana Houghton are also included.

“The presence of a large number of female and gender non-confirming artists challenge the figure of men as the center of the universe,” the curator told the press.

Since she was appointed to spearhead the prestigious exhibition in January 2020, Alemani has been working on the preparation of the show remotely from her New York office. The content of the hotly anticipated exhibition is a result of many long and candid online conversations she had with artists over the past two years, after the exhibition was postponed from 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The research and learning stage had to be done remotely… but I met hundreds and hundreds of artists by Zoom. Not being able to be in their studios is sad. Not being able to see their works in person meant my senses couldn’t be activated,” Alemani said. On the other hand, she said the experience brought “strange feelings of intimacy” and “confessional” discussions.

These conversations were distilled into three major themes that are “intertwined” through out the show, which will be staged at the Arsenale and Giardini: “The representation of bodies and their metamorphosis,” “The relationship between individuals and technologies,” and “The connection between bodies and earth.” In each of the main sections, artworks will echo the mysterious depictions of mutant creatures featured in Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington’s book, The Milk of Dreams, which inspired the title of this year’s exhibition.

Alemani added the “transhistorical” exhibition will additionally have five “time capsules,” which each revolve around different themes: Historic and previously unseen artworks, loaned from major institutions and collections, will be installed here in parallel with the contemporary works on view in the show.

“What emerges is a historical narrative that is not built around systems of direct inheritance or conflict, but around forms of symbiosis, solidarity, and sisterhood,” she said in a statement.


Source: Artnet