Venice Bienniale 2022, the milk of dreams and the fate of comets

Teresa Scarale
Teresa Scarale
Read Time: 5'
How can art reflect these uncertain scenarios? The answer comes from Gian Maria Tosatti and Eugenio Viola, sole artist and curator respectively, who were commissioned to set up the Italian Pavilion at the 59. International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia. Articulated in two acts according to a "Rossinian crescendo," the Italian Pavilion will have a theatrical flavor
History of Night and Destiny of Comets is the title of the exhibition project of the Italian Pavilion at the 59. International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia (April 23 - November 27, 2022), titled by curator Cecilia Alemani The Milk of Dreams. The exhibition, curated by Eugenio Viola, for the first time in the history of the Italian Pavilion, presents the work of a single artist: Gian Maria Tosatti (Lia Rumma Gallery, photographs: 3,500 - 20,000; drawings: 3,500 - 10,000; works on canvas/mixed media: 10,000 - 30,000; installations: 7,000 - 45,000), who has been entrusted with the entire space of the Tese delle Vergini, at the Arsenale. "A work with an irreducible theatrical syntax," curator Eugenio Viola, chief curator of Mambo in Bogotá and former curator at large of Madre in Naples, calls it at the presentation press conference, "evocative of our uncertain and metapandemic present."
The installation begins with a prologue, then develops through the two acts that are the project's very name, History of the Night and Destiny of the Comets, in a "Rossinian crescendo" until the final epiphany.

Gian Maria Tosatti ed Eugenio Viola
Gian Maria Tosatti, left, and Eugenio Viola; sole artist and curator of the Italian Pavilion at the 2022 Venice Art Biennale, respectively. The title of the installation that will occupy the spaces dedicated to our country is History of the Night and Destiny of Comets

Night is the story of the rise and fall of the Italian industrial dream, punctuated by literary references such as La Dismissione (Ermanno Rea) or some aspects of Gomorra (Roberto Saviano). The atmosphere Viola always reveals is what Andrea Zanzotto called slavish progress. The comets of the final act, "in a palingenetic and cathartic vision," offer a purposeful look at our evolution. "The pavilion speaks of what we have so far failed to become and the courage we should have to become it," says Gian Maria Tosatti himself, "of a civilization that has suffered defeat and is being sold out in pieces. But against whom have we lost? Against ourselves. We have not evolved. We stood still. We did not realize that fireflies were disappearing

Il latte dei sogni e il destino delle comete

Pier Paolo Pasolini, "the greatest Italian artist of the 20th century," wrote this in Corriere della Sera on February 1, 1975, in the article Il vuoto del potere, "I would give the entire Montedison for a firefly." A wish the artist reveals he entrusted to his work diaries, "Now that Montedison is gone, can we have one firefly?" Art is a cruel mirror.

1975 was a long time ago. We were worried about small things while the world was sinking. While I was working on the Russian border (the artist spent many months between Russia and Ukraine for some works in the cycle My Heart is Hollow as a Mirror, even suffering an arrest by Russian police, ed.) I would stay many hours on a river that was the border between Russia and Estonia. I would watch the birds and their freedom: they could go wherever they wanted without caring about the borders set by man. This is what we have lost, and I used to say to myself: freedom. Anna Maria Ortese wrote in the book Corpo celeste that drawing a way out of darkness is an iron duty. That is why the Pavilion does not give answers but points to a perspective.

Asked if he intends to moralize, Tosatti replies that the task of art is not moralistic. Its purpose is "to make us feel in our veins the burning of an unbearable condition, which demands our change. The tragedy is the founding act of modern art. That founding act is based on the mechanism of catharsis, which is not morality. It is coming out of it with the knowledge that you cannot continue to be even for a moment what you had been until just now." The epilogue of the installation History of Night and Fate of Comets reminds us how outraged nature, since the time of the Flood, does not forgive man. It wants to be an "inversely disturbing" element, the sign of a possible peace.
It is a message of hope about the destiny that awaits mankind, equal to a comet with its luminous trail that has crossed the universe. After all, adds curator Eugenio Viola, "optimism in these uncertain times is an ethical necessity.

"Art must destabilize the status quo," observes Sergio Buttiglieri, the style director of Sanlorenzo Yacht, appreciating "the deep reflection on our time and the great social commitment" of Gian Maria Tosatti, "an intellectual artist, capable of connecting literary and theatrical elements to his artistic research." Sanlorenzo's approach to the contemporary art world thus continues (the company is also a global partner of Art Basel and the Institutional Patron of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice). Supporting the Italian Pavilion as the primary sponsor (with Valentino) was for Sanlorenzo "a unique opportunity.

Sergio Buttiglieri
Sergio Buttiglieri

It was also a thoughtful choice in light of the company's affinities with the theme of the balance between man and nature, so dear to Tosatti. In the words of Massimo Perotti, president and CEO of Sanlorenzo, "Venice and the Italian Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2022 are an extraordinary global showcase: a synthesis of the creativity and energy that Italy expresses with a young artist of great talent such as Gian Maria Tosatti," whose responsibility, as the sole artist entrusted with the Italian Pavilion, is "great," concludes Sergio Buttiglieri. However, he has no doubts: the project will succeed at its best.
Editor-in-chief of Pleasure Assets. A professional journalist from Gargano, she holds a degree in Economic and Social Disciplines from Bocconi University in Milan. She writes about finance, economics, art, and luxury markets. Teresa has been part of We Wealth since its founding.


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