The Milk of Dreams

My impressions from the 59th Venice Biennale 2022

Finally, after longing to do so since my Fine Art school days, I was able to travel to the Venice Biennale, the world’s oldest and most prestigious international art event.  In short, the Biennale represents all those things the art world should be but not always is. The 59th Biennale, which had to be delayed one year due to the pandemic, was conceived as an inclusive, diverse, socially conscious, and even sustainable event. My expectations were high. The pressure was on. In just four days in Venice and two in the Biennale, I was supposed to absorb thousands of artworks scattered in the more than 90 national Pavilions located across the Giardini next to the International Art Exhibition displayed at The Arsenale. I planned my trip with extreme care: I spent hours researching, asked colleagues for tips, and decided to join a group from the Stedelijk Museum, in Amsterdam, that was traveling to Venice to get the most out of my trip.

On a full-moon September night, I landed in Venice filled with excitement, a bit of anxiety and a brand-new notebook where to write my thoughts. Soon enough it was clear my visit was going to be entirely different from what I imagined. To be honest, at times I was overwhelmed by the crowds and the seemingly endless options and logistics and was left with an uneasy feeling. Perhaps, my uneasiness had to do with the many ways in which the Biennale uncovered the condition of our current world. For this reason, lots of pieces dealt with the political, social, and environmental problems our world faces, and some of them were explicitly violent or disturbing. I became particularly uncomfortable when standing in front of the chaotic images and discordant sounds showcased at the Australian pavilion, and needed to get some air. However, after exiting this show I ended up feeling more present, more alive.

Hungarian pavilion, Venice Biennale 2022

Regardless of all the mixed emotions, my trip was filled with life-changing moments. For instance, I truly enjoyed the Hungarian Pavilion where Zsófia Keresztes’s large-scale Surrealist-looking sculptures briefly transported me to an alternate reality, a peaceful and serene one. At the same time, the exhibitions at the Belgian and South Korean Pavilions, which respectively featured works by Francis Alÿs and  Yunchul Kim, can be added to my all-time favorites. Next to all the art I also had many adventures and met interesting people during my stay. While the trip was not everything I was expecting, I would travel to another Biennale in the future and would recommend it to anyone even if only once. More to come…

Author Dima Bondarenko

Editor Constanza Ontiveros, Art History PhD

Oct. 20, 2022

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