Venice Art Biennale 2022

The Milk of Dreams

Words by Albert Shyong

Artwork by Felipe Baeza

Postponed for a year, the 59th Venice Art Biennale will finally open this Spring from April 23 to November 27, with Cecilia Alemani, chief curator of High Line Art, serving as artistic director. Entitled The Milk of Dreams, the exhibition is named after the 2017 children’s book by Leonora Carrington, in which the Surrealist artist envisions a world magically liberated from the confines of self and being, free to transform identity and re-imagine existence. This parallel world comes as an escape from our current chaotic reality as well as an open invitation to re-examine and reconstruct it. With spaces designed by Milan-based studio FormaFantasma, three themes resonate throughout the work of the exhibition: the representation of bodies and their metamorphoses, the relationship between individuals and technologies, and the connection between bodies and Earth.

On the eve of the biennale, we examine participating artists that weave between the realms of art and fashion, establishing a continuum that exists between disciplines that cultivates creativity across the spectrum. The ongoing dialogue between art and fashion is demonstrated within the pages of A Magazine Curated By, with previous editions such as A#10 Curated By Giambattista Valli, A#13 Curated By Iris Van Herpen and A#16 Curated By Alessandro Michele featuring work by artists amongst Alemani’s curation.

Solar Music (1955) by Remedios Varo, featured in A Magazine Curated By Iris Van Herpen

Star Catcher (1956) by Remedios Varo, featured in A Magazine Curated By Iris Van Herpen

Vegetarian Vampires (1962) by Remedios Varo, featured in A Magazine Curated By Iris Van Herpen

In an exercise of establishing the zeitgeist with mutual influence, the intertwining of art and fashion is inevitable in the materialisation of human expression. For example, Phoebe Philo mentions Hannah Höch, one of 192 female artists highlighted at this year’s biennale, as an inspiration for her Autumn Winter 2014 collection for Celine. Although not immediately apparent, the asymmetrical placement of buttons, accent brooches and contrasting prints are reminiscent of the German Dada artist’s photomontage style of reconstructing composition, especially when considering underlying allusions to the agency and liberation of structures binding women during the Weimar period.

The subliminal transfer of ideas and creativity, as a result of cross-disciplinary dialogue, can also be apparent in fashion beyond just design, revealing itself in scenography, accompanying music and even literature. American Modernist sculptor Ruth Asawa, another featured artist of the 2022 Venice Biennale, attended the Black Mountain College with the likes of Josef & Anni Albers, Robert Rauschenberg, Franz Kline, John Cage, Cy Twombly and Willem de Kooning, none of whom are designers themselves but have exerted an immense and undeniable influence on numerous fashion designers. This incubator of creativity, the Black Mountain College, and its experimental and holistic approach to the study of art, is further explored by Dr. Monica Titton in “Art and Freedom” featured in A Magazine Curated by Lucie and Luke Meier. What the institution represents, for the purposes of this selection at least, is the innate collaboration that multidisciplinary exchange fosters.

Portrait composition (1931) by Florence Henri, featured in Jil Sander’s Autumn Winter Menswear 2021 collection

Vive L’Amour (1990) by Niki de Saint Phalle, featured in Dior Spring Summer 2018 collection

Salon 02 “The Importance of Wearing Clothes” by Rosemarie Trockel, for Bottega Veneta Spring Summer 2021

Dior Autumn Winter 2019 show, Scenography by Tomaso Binga

“Into the Space of Love” (2019) by Wu Tsang, for Gucci and Frieze

Carol Rama retrospective “La passion selon Carol Rama” (2015), with Rick Owens furniture

In this time of increasingly adamant global discord, cross-cultural dialogue and ideological exchange is evermore crucial. The ease and reach of visual dissemination reinforces the ability that fashion and art have in sharing culture, whether to be consumed digitally or experienced physically. This year’s Venice Biennale is a testament to the cultural persuasion that art and fashion possess, exemplified by the subversive resignation of the entire Russian Pavilion, consisting of Lithuanian curator Raimundas Malašauskas and Russian artists Alexandra Sukhareva and Kirill Savchenkov, in protest of the Kremlin’s imperialistic invasion of Ukraine. A sense of unity, marked by multitudes of human expression that range in discipline and provenance, is collectively appreciated and preserved.

The 59th Venice Biennale runs from April 23 to November 27, 2022.

Mark in the red car, Lexington, MA (1979) by Nan Goldin, featured in A Magazine Curated by Giambattista Valli

Trixie on the cot, New York City (1979) by Nan Goldin, featured in A Magazine Curated By Giambattista Valli

Rise and Monty kissing, New York City (1980) by Nan Goldin, featured in A Magazine Curated By Giambattista Valli

High Tea with Oscar Wilde (pg. 136-137) by Nan Goldin, featured in A Magazine Curated By Alessandro Michele

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