Over and over again bodies, plants, biomorphs, vegetables grow and multiply: finally, in the main exhibition of the 59th Venice Biennale of Art, one feels like he saw human, especially female bodies with plants that sprouted more often than ever – and vice versa. Curator Cecilia Alemani has laid out an enchanting path through which an overwhelming number of works, mostly by women, can be seen, from superstars to rediscovery and rising talents, which, despite such a large scope, often revolve around certain themes.
Al Yamani, in turn, has highlighted this through small exhibitions called “time capsules” within its main gallery. And if there is also a Goldene Löwen as a prize for whole rooms, which one would like to recommend to the museum for purchase, here the jury can throw them out. Organized cabinets closely deal with the historical chapters of art history, exclusively by women. Titles include “The Witch’s Cradle,” “Seduction of the Cyborg,” or “Technologies of Enchantment,” about the alleged witches of the surrealists about Leonora Carrington, from which the title of the entire event comes from her writing: “Milk of Dreams.” It relates to early fantasies of a human-machine fusion as a precursor to what would later be called a cyborg. Time and time again, it is about “re-enchanting”, re-enchanting by all possible means to counteract the “disappointment” of the technological world proclaimed by Max Weber, ie the technology of all things.
This is also based on the pioneering work at the Grand Surrealist Frankfurt Fair from last year and is simultaneously surrounded by an exhibition in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection on the other side of the Grand Canal, which deals with “Surrealism and Magic”, subtitled: “Enchanted Modernity”, Enchanted Modernity. (From October at the Barberini Museum Potsdam.)
The return of magical thinking is often understood as a liberating project
Portraying surrealism now gleefully as a movement for feminist empowerment may be astonishing, and a bit scary in fact, but it is very contemporary. Because people inclined to occultism have known it for a long time, and those who doubt or even hate esotericism have had to pay more attention in recent years: the return of occult thinking is understood in light of the problem “Alternative Methods of Knowledge” as a liberating project and with great institutional success driven by it. Also in this Biennale, the word ‘spirituality’ appears in the explanatory texts on the wall with the same frequency as the artworks’ terms ‘location’ or ‘position’.
A phrase from the depths of the ’70s that blows the mind anew: Soma, meaning the body. to somatization Religious sociologists have spoken at the time when political revolution has withdrawn from the body, society has been rolled inward, and one’s body has become a temple and a place of execution. The character of the “shaman” is also popular again, at least as long as the native Siberian animal urine drinkers do not reject it as a cultural appropriation constantly used by Westerners, who feel the medicine man, healer and savior in themselves. Since the heyday of the sex society, psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich may not have been called as often as he is today. This now blends in with keywords for the present such as the Anthropocene, vigilance for other species and the Global South. “Link” goes back to the 90s, at that time friendly interaction with each other was already an artistic topic, for example culinary.
Nearby, an artist inserted a gene from her body into a plant
Perhaps it’s more than a coincidence that the creator of the concept of Relational Aesthetics, curator Nicholas Buryud, is now also opening a new private gallery a few blocks away. and that a young artist, Dana-Fiona Armor, had a gene inserted from her body into a plant; Red hairs gradually grow on the respective tobacco leaves. It’s a little scary, but the Buryud exhibit is also called “Planet B. Climate Change and the New Sublime.” The theory-loving French promises a renewal of sublime aesthetics for a world caught in the “feedback loops” of technology and climate change. Today, it is no longer the majesty that makes romantic painters shiver because of its size and distance, like mountains or the sea. In “A Shrinking World,” it is more like “what a rabbit feels when the headlights of a speeding car go blind.”
Just as in this biennial exhibition one can see physical forms growing in all sorts of extensions, so the gallery itself can be seen as a body stretching across a lake. Here and there one of the country pavilions seems to be thematically inlaid, and outside in the city many side galleries revolve around everything like cosmic stars, which should not only fascinate people with astronomical sensitivity.
In the Polish pavilion there is a reference to Abbe Warburg’s famous “afterlife” investigation of ancient star beliefs in the frescoes of Palazzo Schifanoia, only unlike Warburg not to analyze culture (in this case it is about the Polish fables of Rome), but to recreate the ambiguity. And there, to quote another Warburg term, “active inversions”: at the Fondazione Prada, artist Tarin Simon and curator Udo Keitelmann set up an encyclopedic exhibition on the “human brain” — from monumental skull openers to the current state of neuroscience. It’s hard to imagine a smarter counter-presentation of the Biennale, which argues so much for the sentimental and the physical, not least the physical.
From there, not far from the room of the Viktor Pinchuk Foundation for Ukraine, where, for a change, the “West” does not confront you as something accused of criticizing rationality, but for its belonging people die, who prefer not to submit to the rule of mysticism. There you can also see the wreckage of war from eastern Ukraine hanging on a mantel: bent metal that oppressively resembles the amorphous bulging bodies of some works in the Biennale. Forms can change content and shipping on migration, Warburg knows.
Nearby, Melanie Bonago transformed the church into a psychedelic haven for Holland’s contribution; There are also pillows and bodies that roll around like vinegar and oil. Very similar figures can also be seen wandering across the new paintings by Daniel Richter, which is on display at the Ateneo, where the candidates were prepared to perform once for the last session. Milky Way? The new surrealism? It will be beautiful. In a second room, the Berlin painter reveals in an unusually brutal manner what his semi-abstract forms indicate: the war-disabled and their prosthetic limbs.
In the meantime, the Russian Pavilion remains closed; The only thing that can be seen there is the year ‘1914’ surrounded by stucco on the facade. Coincidence, of course, but what a coincidence