Venice Biennale Made of Dreams 2022

The Venice Biennale, which was postponed due to the pandemic after the last 2019 Biennial, will take place this year between 23 April – 27 November 2022. The 59th International Art Exhibition, titled “The Milk of Dreams”, takes its name from the book of British surrealist painter Leonora Carrington.

The book “The Milk of Dreams” consists of the stories that the artist told to her children while living in Mexico in the 1950s, and the series of paintings of the same name, involving mystical and fantastic scenes with androgynous figures and animals she drew for these stories.

Cecilia Alemani. Photo: Andrea Avezzù. Image Source:

Biennial curator Cecilia Alemani said: “ …the Surrealist artist describes a magical world where life is constantly re-envisioned through the prism of the imagination. It is a world where everyone can change, be transformed, become something or someone else; a world set free, brimming with possibilities.” expressing the inspiration of Carrington’s book for the exhibition. Accompanied by Leonora Carrington’s extraterrestrial creatures and transforming figures, the exhibition “The Milk of Dreams” takes the viewer on a hypothetical journey that questions the definition of being human through metamorphosed bodies.

Chinese Pavilion. Photo: Andrea Avezzù

Cecilia Alemani says that this year’s biennial will challenge the view that the male figure is the center of the universe and will focus on the relationship between humans, different life forms and technology. The event, which will feature mostly female and gender nonconfirming artists for the first time in its 127-year history, was also structured with a transhistorical approach, not adhering to existing systems. This approach traces kinships and affinities between artistic methods and practices, even across generations, to create new layers of meaning and bridge present and past.

Simone Leigh, Brick House, Arsenale. Photo: Andrew Russeth – ARTnews

The 2022 Venice Biennale invites the audience to think upon many other studies that capture the moment when the existence of species is threatened, but also cover the sciences, arts and myths of today. How does the definition of man change? What constitutes life and what distinguishes plant and animal, human and non-human? What are our responsibilities to the planet, to other humans, and to other life forms? And what would life be like without us? Questions such as these are seeking answers throughout the exhibition.

About the Exhibitions

Giardini. Image: Andrea Avezzù

The main exhibition, which will be presented at the Arsenale and Giardini, is divided into three parts: “Representations of bodies and their metamorphoses”, “The relationship between individuals and technologies” and “The connection between bodies and the Earth”. Each section features works that correspond to surrealist artist Leonora Carrington’s “The Milk of Dreams”, which gave its name to the exhibition. Within the main exhibition, there are also 5 sections that serve as time capsules where historical artifacts borrowed from museums and collections will be exhibited together with contemporary art works. Apart from Arsenale and Giardini, 21 other venues will host country pavilions.

Müge Yilmaz – The Adventures of Umay Ixa Kayakızı, 2022. Photo: Marco Cappelletti con Filippo Rossi

The biennial has announced the names of 213 artists, including collectives, for their works to be shown. Two Turkish names, Müge Yılmaz and Özlem Altın, who live and produce abroad, are also among these names. The event will include 213 artists from 58 countries; 180 participating for the first time in the International Exhibition.

Özlem Altın – Translucent shield (calling), 2022 © Ozlem Altın. Photo: Roberto Marossi

From the 1433 works and objects displayed, 80 new projects are conceived specifically for the Biennale Arte. The event, which will host the most diverse artist community among the biennials held to date, will feature works by artists from 58 countries. In addition to the 5 countries that will be represented for the first time at the event – Cameroon, Namibia, Oman, Nepal, Uganda – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan will host international pavilions for the first time.

The Turkish Pavilion

The artist who will produce works for the Turkish Pavilion at the Biennial with 80 national participants was determined as Füsun Onur in 2020. Curated by the art projects director of İKSV and the Istanbul Biennial Bige Örer, the exhibition will take place in the long-term space allocated for the period 2014-2034 at the Arsenale, with the initiative of İKSV and the contributions of 21 supporters.

Füsun Onur. Photo: Muammer Yanmaz

Füsun Onur, who produces works on painting, sculpture and installation art, is known as an artist who shapes the basic aspects of conceptual art with her own perspective. Many are looking forward to the work that the artist will produce for the 59th Venice Biennale, whose works have taken part in international events such as Kassel, dOCUMENTA, Moscow Biennale, and Istanbul Biennial and has an important place in Turkish art history.

Photo: Marta Tonelli
Photo: Marta Tonelli

Piazza Ucraina

Near the vacant Russian Pavilion, this year Piazza Ucraina was erected by the curators of the Ukrainian Pavilion, hosting an open-air exhibition. Displaying works by Ukrainian artists created since the invasion, The Wartime Art Archive was compiled by the Ukrainian Emergency Art Fund (UEAF) team. Ukrainian Emergency Art Fund is a foundation to support artists and cultural workers during the war and afterwards. It was established by MOCA NGO together with independent media Zaborona, The Naked Room gallery and cultural institution Mystetskyi Arsenal.

Photo: Marco Cappelletti

The fund accumulates charity resources, information on available programs, and other opportunities of Ukrainian and foreign institutions to support Ukrainian independent artists, curators, art managers, researchers and non-governmental cultural initiatives. Learn more and donate at

Photo: Marco Cappelletti

Wartime Art is also another answer to the three questions of Cecilia Alemani, offered in the statement of The Milk of Dreams. Artists in Ukraine and Ukrainian artists outside the country are experiencing human change. And together with this experience, they have their own vision of the human body and its metamorphosis, the relationship between individuals and technologies, between the body and the Earth. For months, human bodies have been shaking along with the walls of their homes and cities. Every day technologies kill and protect also. Every day, human relationships with plants, animals, earth and non-humans change or strengthen, and this is not a dream.

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