The woman dominates the painting biennial – Photo 1 out of 5

Of the collective lethargy that the Biennale has been an expression of for years, there is little left: the surprise is no longer to see characters from the mainstream of Anglo-Saxon art who had monopolized Venice, Rome, London, New York and it gives us a sigh of relief. There is still a need to understand a topicality that manifests itself in scattered and uncontrolled attacks, wars, distance from institutions, inability to build Europe: A Biennale that has always been an expression of brutality, politicization and degradation is dominated of painting and sculpture instead of video documentaries, and is this really new?

There are more than 194 artists participating in the ‘Milk of Dreams’ trend (with the subcategories’ The Cradle of the Witch’, ‘Corpo orbit’, ‘Enchantment Technologies’ at Giardini’s central pavilion while at Arsenale:’ A Magazine, a pumpkin etc … ‘,’ Cyborg Seduction ‘and special sections like the one in the Italian pavilion in the Arsenale-Giardino delle Vergini area:’ History of the Night and Destiny of the Comets’ with a work by Gianmaria Tosatti) and even more for national participations … so that it becomes problematic to know the exact number of participating artists.

Globalization is always at the heart of the problem, but confirms that the world of art – culture – is a condition sine qua non. Citizens and their cultural roots are sought insistently, women who, from ‘strangers’ in the places where they were born, are with other customers, in a whole that is no longer socially conflict-ridden and reminiscent of the 80s, where as we said it is the ‘form’ that dominates rather than the document: stop the surplus of ‘conceptual art’.

Apart from the empty space that Germany and Spain have re-proposed, the closed Russian pavilion and a few embalmed and hung horses – rhetoric about the body in metamorphosis – from the Danish pavilion, the main characters are paintings and sculptures of interpretive artists and actors the biennial code. Their insistence remains dark spaces animated by video installations as in the Australian pavilion and the widespread environment of the English pavilion; but what emerges is this new perspective dictated by the US pavilion, transformed into an African hut and – as in a game of mirrors – the large terracotta sculptures at the entrance to the Arsenale, while in the Belgian pavilion – at the entrance to Giardini – videos of black children playing are shown.

As if to ‘close the circle’, earth fetishes are found – not in a single room, as the earth is ubiquitous in this widespread exhibition – on a par with a botanical garden that closes the exhibition at the Arsenale. It would be pointless to read this exhibition – given its size – as a trend reversal in the interpretation of the science of curation: from a paratactic arrangement, where the meanings are expressed in a documentary way, to the hypotactic of the demiurge painter: but ‘ is the rhetoric of power, there is no superfluous luxury as video art, computer art, photography are limited. Not a threat to the status quo, nothing to do with people in disgrace, weakened, in danger of survival, drowned or bombed.

Once again, the logic that animates the Biennale is the same as in previous years, but with completely different results: Ample space is given to artists from small, remote and seemingly irrelevant places such as Kosovo, Albania or Africans such as Ivory Coast, Kenya or as far east as Nepal, Philippines… and in the city there is no shortage of autonomous pavilions Armenia, Arzebajan, Zimbabwe …

A biennial inspired by the surrealist author Lenora Carrington but which essentially has enormous amounts of works, with the acquisition of techniques – such as the hyper-realistic mannequin he remembers Cattelan or automatons reminiscent of the last Kapoor – in a few spaces, like the Italian pavilion, where Tosatti recreates a real manufacturing industry, where women are absent.

Many will regret not having participated in this edition planned at a distance of Cecilia Alemani, brilliant and revolutionary curator. If the procedure for self-nomination had not been so cumbersome, we would have given a score of 10 and praise to an edition that has many visitors in the post-pandemic.

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