59th International Art Exhibition
Sunday 27 November is the closing day of the 59th International Art Exhibition, The Milk of Dreams, curated by Cecilia Alemani and produced by La Biennale di Venezia, which this year registered a record attendance. With a total of over 800,000 tickets sold – plus the 22,498 people who attended the preview – the number of visitors marked a 35% increase over the 197 days of the exhibition compared to the 173 days of the 2019 edition. Even considering the greater length of the Exhibition, the increase remains substantial, particularly given the restrictions on travel imposed by the pandemic: this is the highest visitor attendance in the 127-year history of the Biennale Arte.
President Roberto Cicutto commented on the results in these words:
“I would like to point out, in particular, that in this remarkably well-attended edition - despite the low presence of visitors from the Asian area - which boasted great attention from the Italian and international press, La Biennale was determined to guarantee the presence of Ukrainian artists, supporting the creation of a Ukraine Pavilion and providing an available space at the Giardini – “Piazza Ucraina” – in which to show works in any format (transmitted digitally) by artists who remained in their country and are often directly involved in the resistance to the Russian aggression.
I furthermore would like to highlight the Curator’s great determination and capacity for having organized such a rich and important Exhibition despite the restrictions imposed by the two worst years of the pandemic.
I would furthermore like to thank the Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia for sharing and continuing to support the Foundation’s choices.
And finally we would like to thank the highly professional staff of La Biennale, who have worked with such great dedication on the organisation and management of the Exhibition.”
The Curator Cecilia Alemani on her part stated:
“As The Milk of Dreams is about to close after 7 months, I want to thank all participating artists for contributing to this exhibition with wonderful artworks and with a passion and enthusiasm that fueled me and the entire institution in these past two years.
It’s been a very long journey that took us through a pandemic, a cruel war, and a collective sense of uncertainty. To organize this exhibition under such circumstances has been a great adventure, but not one without hurdles and complications. I have conceived this exhibition remotely, with hundreds of studio visits done on zoom with artists from all over the world. Very few artists were able to come and do site visits. Nobody knew if the artworks would get to Venice on time. Even if now things seem to have returned to a sort of normalcy, we all know it was an extraordinary period and that it took more than two years to get to this point. The fact that this exhibition could open on time back in April is still somewhat miraculous.
La Biennale team has worked under extremely complicated conditions, and this appearance of normality was gained through gigantic efforts, in a unique historical juncture that gives to the international character of La Biennale a sense of necessity and responsibility even more fundamental. For this reason, I am very grateful to President Roberto Cicutto, my curatorial team and the entire team of La Biennale who came up with solutions and solved problems with the creativity and professionalism that has made this institution legendary.
The 800,000 people who came to visit The Milk of Dreams demonstrate that art has the power to foster participation, and that after so many months of isolation, people want to celebrate and see art in person, in a joyful and communal experience shared with many friends, families, colleagues, and art lovers. In times like this, as the history of La Biennale di Venezia clearly shows, art and artists can help us imagine new modes of coexistence and infinite new possibilities of transformation.”
The public consisted of 59% foreign visitors and 41% Italian.
There was extraordinary attendance by young people and students for a total of 239,276, which represents 30% of all visitors. Visitors organized as a group were 14% of the total public.
There were 4,200 accredited journalists in the days of the preview alone, representing the Italian (1,705) and international (2,495) press, followed by the 5,800 who received accreditation throughout the months of the exhibition, for a total of 10,000 journalists from press agencies, televisions, radio, newspapers, periodicals, online news sites.
In 2021 La Biennale began a process of reassessing all its activities in light of recognized and consolidated principles of environmental sustainability. In 2022 it expanded its goal of achieving certification of “carbon neutrality” – which it obtained in 2021 for the 78th Venice International Film Festival – to all the activities organized by La Biennale: the 59th International Art Exhibition, the Theatre, Music and Dance Festival and the 79th Venice International Film Festival. The achievement of the certification will be announced in coming days in a dedicated press release.
The Exhibition in figures
213 artists invited to the Exhibition
58 countries of origin of the artists
180 first participations at the Biennale
2 Special Projects:
Pavilion of Applied Arts in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Forte Marghera Special Project in Mestre
13 Meetings on Art
80 National Participations
27 National Participations in the historical Pavilions of Giardini
26 National Participations in the Arsenale (including Italy)
27 National Participations around the city of Venice
5 +3 National Participations participating for the first time: Republic of Cameroon, Namibia, Nepal, Sultanate of Oman, and Uganda.
Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and Republic of Uzbekistan have participated for the first time with their own Pavilion at the Biennale Arte.
30 Collateral Events
Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, upon recommendation by the Artistic Director, to the German artist Katharina Fritsch and to the Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña.
The International Jury, composed by Adrienne Edwards (USA), President of the Jury, Lorenzo Giusti (Italy), Julieta González (Mexico), Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (Cameroon), Susanne Pfeffer (Germany) has decided to present the following awards:
- Golden Lion for Best National Participation to Great Britain, Sonia Boyce: Feeling Her Way
- 2 special mentions to France and Uganda (new participation)
- Golden Lion for the Best Participant to Simone Leigh
- Silver Lion for a Promising Young Participant to Ali Cherri
- 2 special mentions to the participants Lynn Hershman Leeson and Shuvinai Ashoona
Biennale College Arte
The Biennale College Arte 2021/22 was organized for the first time, with young emerging artists under 30, selected by the Curator out of over 250 applications from 58 countries from around the world. More than half of them are women. The finalists in this first edition – 3 women artists from Italy, South Africa and Zimbabwe and one male artist from Georgia – enjoyed a grant of 25,000 euro to create the final work which was presented, out of competition, at the 59th International Art Exhibition.
The Biennale Sessions project – dedicated to Universities, Fine Arts Academies, research and educational institutions in the fields of architecture, the visual arts and connected fields – for the twelfth year in a row favoured the visit to the Exhibition of groups of students and teachers, with an extraordinary participation of foreign universities.
79 universities involved, of which 35 Italian e 44 foreign, from every continent.
With 7 universities involved, Germany and United States ranks second in terms of participation, followed by France (5) and Austria (5).
A total of 3,017 students were involved in the project.
Educational activities and guided tours
79,402 +23,67% (4,733 groups) participants at the Educational activities and guided tours
39,244 +12,58% young people and students participated in the educational activities
6,416 teachers involved in educational activities carried out in the Exhibition venues
3,040 teachers involved during the dedicated preview
1,044 participating schools, of which:
- 47 preschools
- 156 primary schools
- 80 secondary schools I grade (including schools that visited independently)
- 761 secondary schools II grade (including schools that visited independently)
40,158 +36,84% adults and public organized in groups participated in the guided tours
26,053 +9,91% members of the public who visited as part of a group
14,105 +149,91% individual visitors who participated in the fixed-departure guided tours (in 891 departures)
36% of the young participants in the educational activities came from the Veneto region.
An important contribution was given by the 50 Active Catalogues: the young graduates, standing in the Exhibition, according to an editorial project provided information to the visitors, who met the initiative with great favor.
Communication, Web and Social Media
Official website: www.labiennale.org
23 April > 22 November 2022
1,653,827 individual visitors
7,859,665 page views
Social Media: The content posted during the Biennale Arte 2022 and on the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube social media platforms of La Biennale di Venezia, got over 102,8 million visualisations overall, generating more than 2 million interactions.
On November 24 are actually sold in the Bookshops inside the Exhibition venues and on the e-commerce store.labiennale.org:
1,308 Italian catalogues
4,802 English catalogues
13,486 Italian short guides
35,975 English short guides
In addition to the catalogue and the short guide, Curator Cecilia Alemani also chose to publish an anastatic reprint of the historic book Materializzazione del linguaggio (Edizioni La Biennale di Venezia) published in 1978, during the eponymous exhibition curated by Mirella Bentivoglio as part of the 38th International Art Exhibition
We would like to thank the Ministero della Cultura, the regional Institutions that each in their own way support La Biennale, the City of Venice, the Regione Veneto, the Soprintendenza Archeologia, belle arti e paesaggio per il Comune di Venezia e Laguna, and the Italian Navy.
We thank our Donors and the International Councils and Organizations, which are essential to the creation of the 59th Exhibition.
We especially wish to thank Cecilia Alemani and all her team.
The 59th International Art Exhibition was also made possible thanks to the support of Swatch, Partner of the event.
Main Sponsor of the 59th Exhibition is illycaffè.
Sponsor: Bloomberg Philantropies, Vela-Venezia Unica and Kvadrat
Our thanks go to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.
Media partner for the 59th International Art Exhibition is Rai Radiotelevisione Italiana.