A research-exhibition about relationships and knowledge. The next International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale will be titled The Encyclopedic Palace and will be curated by the enfant prodige of the Italian contemporary art, Massimiliano Gioni (on the photo). From June 1st to November 24th 2013, the Padiglione Centrale (Giardini) and the Arsenale will host 155 artists coming from 37 countries, representing a time lapse from the last century to nowadays. Among the news of this edition, there will be the exhibition curated by Cindy Sherman and the presentation of the original manuscript of Carl Gustav Jung’s The Red Book.
The title of the exhibition is inspired by a project of the Italo-american Marino Auriti, who patented the idea of the Encyclopedic Palace on November 16th, 1955. It was an imaginary museum that would host all the human knowledge, from wheel to satellite, everything concentrated inside a unique building composed by 136 floors, 700 meters high, that would be able to occupy more than 16 blocks of Washington. “This exhibition wants to explore how the artist can give form to his inner images, when he is surrounded by artificial images, while he lives in a information overload – Gioni explained – We try to talk about imagination through an anthropological approach, taking the Umberto Eco’s idea of encyclopedia as our starting point”. Indeed, the biennials model is similar to Aurity’s dream: it attempts to assemble the endless worlds of contemporary art into a unique place.
Aiming to express these ideas, The Encyclopedic Palace will present paintings, films, pictures, videos, bestiaries, encyclopedic figures, performances, installations, without any distinction between the institutional art and the so-called „low“ art, from the academic artist and the self-taught artist. Inside the Padiglione Centrale space, the Hilma af Klimt‘s and Papa Ibra Tall‘s paintings will be close to the Augustin Lesage‘s works, to the Shake community’s or the shamans of the Salamon Island’s drawings. The complete Roger Caillois’ collection of stones or the Rudolf Steiner‘s sketches will be next to Robert Crumb‘s illustrations or to Hito Steyerl‘s and Sharon Hayes‘ videos, and even to the tarots realized by Aleister Crowley (“The clairvoyant role is really contemporary – Gioni clarified – And then he lived in Italy for a period of time”).
“In these years, our curators’ desire to put the artist into a historical or relational prospective increased”, declared Paolo Baratta, the President of the Venice Biennale. A prospective that is also so inclusive that it became an exhibition inside the exhibition. Indeed, the artist Cindy Sherman will present at the Arsenale a show curated by her own – more than 200 artworks made by about 30 artists, among which there will be Carol Rama, John De Andrea, Herbert List.
“Plato said that there is nothing as sweet as to know everything”, Gioni quoted smiling, and after all he knows a lot about biennial shows. Born in 1973, he curated the exhibition called “La Zona” in the 50th Venice Biennale when he was 30 years old, then he curated Manifesta 5 in 2004 and the Berlin Biennial in 2006 (with Maurizio Cattelan and Ali Subotnick), without considering the other shows and his role as director of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. “About art, Italy is a nation that plays in the major league, sometimes with resources that are suitable for the minor league – he confided. So, if they want to make their work known, the Italian artists are forced to travel abroad more than their colleagues coming form the other countries”. The Encyclopedic Palace has been the Auriti’s unattainable dream and, as much as all the unattainable dreams and utopias, it will never stop to inspire art and imagination.

Gabriele Girolamini

The Encyclopedic Palace :: 55° International Art Exhibition
Giardini e Arsenale
Vernice: 29-30-31 Maggio 2013
web: www.labiennale.org

Venice (Italy), from June 1st to November 24th 2013