The curator of the 59th Venice Art Biennale, Cecilia Alemani (born 1977 in Milan), lives with her family in New York. Like her husband, Massimiliano Gioni, she is an art director and currently curates exhibitions in New York, where she has led the brilliant High Line Art program since 2011. At the same time, also in New York, she has broadened her experience in artwork for public and unusual spaces, both commissioning and producing.
The 2022 Venice Biennale involved many female artists from all over the world. Between the Central Pavilion, the Giardini and the Arsenale, more than 213 women artists from 58 countries exhibited about 1,500 works of art and 80 new productions. Certainly the Covid-19 pandemic hindered the preparation of the exhibition, but Alemani was able to guarantee the necessary contacts with the artists through visits and video conferencing.
She succeeded in winning over to her project artists interested in “expressing in the language of abstraction their reflections on screens, skin, technical devices and all the possible membranes that connect us and the world,” as she stated in conversation with the German art critic Heinz-Norbert Jocks.
The curator drew the title of the exhibition, “The Milk of Dreams,” from the children’s book of the same name by the surrealist author Leonora Carrington (1917-2011), which evokes a magical world where life is continually re-discovered through the prism of the imagination. For Carrington, in image and text lies a world where everyone can change, transform, become something or someone else. The book contains short, far-fetched stories and drawings, while fantastical creatures and magical beings, including spider-eating children and upside-down women, populate the illustrations. The book is by no means easy to decipher, but it is a fruitful introduction to the exhibition. Everywhere you turn, you find a fabulous mixture of fantastic beings.
Alemani takes visitors on an imaginary journey through a bubbling world of ever-new metamorphoses of bodies, thus questioning the dominant current definitions of the human and the person. She is credited with using this ambience and flow for the exhibition, which, by dealing with three themes – the representation of bodies and their metamorphoses; the relationship between individuals and technology; the link between the body and the Earth – engages with posthumanism. “In the exhibition, however, traditional bodies are not represented, but rather expanded, fragmented, disassembled and transcend both physical and canvas boundaries. The idea of fluidity and a hybrid identity here relates to contemporary considerations of race and gender.”