La Biennale di Venezia

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Historical Archives


Fragments of memory from the Historical Archives of La Biennale

Following a timeline that runs from 1895 to 1999, this selection does not claim to exhaust the long and complex history of La Biennale di Venezia but simply recounts several episodes on its life and organization, and the participation of artists and curators in the International Art Exhibition.

Paolo Baratta

The reassessment of the Wunderkammer, implicit in the 2013 edition of La Biennale The Encyclopedic Palace, was at the roots of a temptation - that of recognizing and displaying our own historical Archive - Wunderkammer, the fruition of impassioned albeit partial collections inspired by the utopia of gathering contemporary art within an encyclopedic palace, conditioned by the obsessions of those who succeeded one another at the head of La Biennale and its Archives.
This is why we asked Massimiliano Gioni to take a short trip through our archives and, without any claim to exhaustiveness, extract significant elements and memories from our history, then, in keeping with his own preferences, to arrange the fragments of a long and eventful history, the curiosities revealing specific attitudes, and the modes of being and conception of the artist’s own specific role and the relationship with La Biennale, and, in the elementary truth of the documentation, to comprehend that vibrant pulsation that history books are not always able to communicate. This exhibition is not, therefore, the history of La Biennale, but is, arguably, just what it takes to inspire us to imagine this history, leaving the job up to the public, inviting them to participate in an act of remembering - our own Amarcord, in other words.

Massimiliano Gioni

Amarcord is a small exhibition set up at Ca’ Giustinian that acts as an appendix to the Biennale Arte 2013, The Encyclopedic Palace.
Amarcord is an incursion into the rooms of memory of La Biennale’s archives, a stroll through the fragments of La Biennale’s hundred-year-old life, reconstructed —without any pretense to completeness— through documents, letters, interviews, recollections, and souvenirs of artists, curators, organizers, and functionaries whose voices and testimonies interweave to form a minor, episodic history.
As Borges reminds us, memory —and with it the archive— is not a dusty attic, a storeroom of inert objects: memory is a tool that is intimately linked to a deeper, more thorough knowledge of the real.
It should not of course be forgotten that hypertrophic memory risks ensnaring us in that foreign land that is the past. But for those who are able to see the present in all its wealth and clarity, and weave it into memory at every instant, the doors open out onto an ecstatic, inebriating, twofold knowledge —remembering, after all, is like seeing twice.