Biennale Sessions: Art and Fashion in our Metamorphic Times

As a part of the Biennale Sessions programme, Istituto Marangoni Firenze students and tutors were invited to exchange views and ideas about the main exhibitions and national pavilions of the 2022 Biennale d’Arte di Venezia. 


By Isabella Chevasco Champsaur and Massimo Romanelli. Cover image: Simone Leigh, Brick House, 2019. Installation view at The Milk of Dreams, 59th Venice Biennale. Photograph: Massimo Romanelli.

The 2022 Biennale d’Arte di Venezia can feel like a carnival for grown-ups, if you are an art enthusiast. This edition’s main subject, The Milk of Dreams, embraces diversity in its vision of the connection between bodies and the earth. It presents a metamorphic journey through artworks of all kinds, aiming to eliminate all forms of binarism. 

A bright Venetian sunshine welcomed us to the main entrance of the Giardini and into the gigantic main exhibition curated by Cecilia Alemani. Students had the pleasure of visiting the central pavilion, and the neighbouring areas of Giardini and Arsenale, alongside the Istituto Marangoni Firenze students and staff.

The whole weekend trip to Venice resulted in an enriching, thrilling and stimulating experience, where we had the chance to consolidate our relationship with our classmates and professors in an unbeatable setting.
The peerless spaces of the Biennale, surrounded and shaped by nature and water, make the perfect scenery to think about how most humans worldwide have a collective delusion of superiority within their ecosystem. 

Precious Okoyomon, To See the Earth Before the End of the World, 2022. Installation view at The Milk of Dreams, 59th Venice Biennale. Photograph: Massimo Romanelli.


The visit started at the Giardini, where Biennale’s central pavilion is located. An introductory talk hosted by Istituto Marangoni Firenze faculty members Carolina Gestri and Riccardo Rubino1, part of the Biennale Sessions program, welcomed and gave us a detailed overview of this year’s edition. With a specific focus on the theme, Rubino, as a Fashion Stylist and tutor, explained during his intervention that “co-existence is the main key and trend of this edition, intending to achieve a super connection with something you didn’t before. This translates to fashion, showing untouched nature alongside pieces inspired by this same artistic trend.” 

Giardini, 59th Biennale di Venezia, 2022. Photograph: Massimo Romanelli.

Gestri, on her side, added the importance of self-awareness to fully understand the topic, inviting us to “listen to our bodies in different situations, in order to understand if a scenario is inviting or not.” She highlighted other focal points of The Milk of Dreams, such as inclusiveness and fluidity, which are key to “coexist and take care of others.” 

Biennale Sessions 2022: lecture by Carolina Gestri and Riccardo Rubino for Istituto Marangoni Firenze. Photograph: Massimo Romanelli.

After a few words from Francesca Tavanti, Director of Education at Istituto Marangoni Firenze, we started to immerse ourselves in the wide variety of formats the Biennale offers. As we were accurately informed in the talk, the focus is always on diversity, giving a comprehensive outlook on reconnecting with the “non-human” and technology as individuals. Artworks of all formats share the rooms. The public is free to visit them in any preferred order, allowing a side-by-side appreciation of pieces from sculptures or paintings to video art and installations. 


Aesthetical rules seem nonexistent, considering the evident visual divergence that arises when walking from one room to another. Across The Milk of Dreams, the Biennale re-introduces Surrealism from the perspective of Leonora Carrington. It uses five historical capsules to touch upon other fields of artistic research through the work of their most celebrated masters and pioneers.
The capsule The Witch’s Cradle encircles Meret Oppenheim and Remedios Varo and employs their work as base points to illustrate the complexity of female identity and the surreal.

Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, Counterblaste, 2021. Installation view at The Milk of Dreams, 59th Venice Biennale. Photograph: Massimo Romanelli.

Moreover, at Giardini, the experience of alternating between pavilions is almost therapeutic. As the imponent nature that ornaments the garden alleviates the highly stimulative display of the pavilions, the onlookers are invited to acknowledge a new approach to their kinetic existence, transformation and communion with the nonhuman. Anthropomorphic allusions can be recognized all over the venues, allowing multiple perceptions of the same works to coexist. 

Uffe Isolotto, We Walked the Earth, 2022. Installation view at Denmark Pavillion, 59th Venice Biennale. Photograph: Massimo Romanelli.


The Arsenale experience develops otherwise, as the whole space is distributed differently. The high ceilings of the Corderie construct the ideal displaying space for artworks of this nature, allowing its appreciation even with a vast amount of people inside the place simultaneously. Despite the crowded rooms, there is a persistent interconnection between the spaces and the main topic of the exhibition.

The building interiors evolve as the route inside the aisles develops, creating multiple atmospheres throughout the installations and artworks of the central exhibition. In this area, the visitors have less freedom to move as they please since the whole passage of it is guided by the way the Corderie are made. The space mutates in harmony with the artworks, featuring a vast amount of textile works, sculptures and canvases.

Large-scale sculptures by Gabriel Chaile take the spotlight at the beginning of the exhibit, where the Argentinian artist displayed five massive pieces made of adobe and bricks. Each oven-like sculpture was supported by an invisible metal structure, allowing them to have unique shapes. These works represent Chaile’s indigenous origins and are part of what he calls the “genealogy of forms”. By making traditional vessels with humanlike features, he portrays his ancestors through traditional objects and the values of nourishment and collaboration they passed on to his generation. 

Gabriel Chaile, Irene Durán, 2022. Installation view at The Milk of Dreams, 59th Venice Biennale. Photograph: Massimo Romanelli.


The overall experience of visiting the 2022 Biennale gives an extensive understanding of the contemporary art panorama. It feels like a seemingly never-ending stimulative encounter with art, where the variety of the works and the constant references to the central theme of this edition makes it a culturally enhancing experience.

Candice Lin, Xternesta, 2022. Installation view at The Milk of Dreams, 59th Venice Biennale. Photograph: Massimo Romanelli.

The audience’s mind and body become one when contemplating these masterpieces, designed to take the edge off the distance between us as humans and our instinct, defying the boundaries of what we are accustomed to perceiving. An enormous variety of themes, from ecosexuality to the consequential effects of the pandemic, are the key players of a Biennale edition that all visitors will enthusiastically remember. 

On the background: Katharina Fritsch, Elefant / Elephant, 1987. Installation view at The Milk of Dreams, 59th Venice Biennale. Photograph: Massimo Romanelli.

Isabella Chevasco Champsaur is an Undegraduate student in Arts Curating at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.
Massimo Romanelli is a Postgraduate student in the Art Management Master’s programme at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.

1. Respectively, Course Leader of the Art Department Master’s programmes and Fashion Styling Programme Leader at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.


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