The Disquieted Muses

The Disquieted Muses

La Biennale di Venezia, 2020

To mark the 125th anniversary of its foundation, Formafantasma has been invited by La Biennale1 di Venezia and Cecilia Alemani2 (Artistic Director of La Biennale 2022) to design 'Le Muse Inquiete'3 (The Disquieted Muses). When La Biennale di Venezia Meets History', an exhibition by Historical Archives of Contemporary Arts (ASAC) held in the Giardini della Biennale's Central Pavilion.
№ – La Biennale di Venezia Central Pavillion. Facade.
This is the first exhibition to be curated by all the Artistic Directors of La Biennale's six Departments. Working together, they had used the one – of – a – kind sources of the Historical Archives of La Biennale and other Italian and international archives to retrace key moments during the 20th century when La Biennale crossed paths with history in Venice. Cecilia Alemani (Art), Alberto Barbera (Cinema), Marie Chouinard (Dance), Ivan Fedele (Music), Antonio Latella (Theatre) and Hashim Sarkis (Architecture) have drawn on the materials of the ASAC, Istituto Luce-Cinecittà and Rai Teche, but also on the records of the Galleria Nazionale Arte Moderna di Roma, Fondazione Modena Arti Visive, Archivio Ugo Mulas, Aamod-Fondazione archivio audiovisivo del movimento operaio e democratico, Archivio Cameraphoto Arte Venezia, IVESER Istituto Veneziano per la Storia della Resistenza e della società contemporanea, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia Roma, Tate Modern London.
№ – La Biennale during fascism, 1928 – 1945.
№ – The Disquieted Muses, view of the exhibition.
№ – La Biennale during fascism, 1928 – 1945.
№ – La Biennale during fascism, 1928 – 1945.
In a period of global instability that over just a few months has brought a succession of environmental disasters, new pandemics, and social revolutions, La Biennale di Venezia serves as a wellspring and channel for the most innovative currents in the artistic disciplines of our era, but also continues to bear witness to the many shifts and crises that have supervened from the late nineteenth century to the present, like a seismometer recording the tremors of history. For the exhibition, the directors have selected rare footage, first – hand accounts, and a range of artworks, following various lines of research to examine the many times when the history of La Biennale has overlapped with the history of the world, revealing or generating institutional rifts and political and ethical crises, but also new creative languages. The exhibition is laid out in the rooms of the Central Pavilion and weaves its way through all six disciplines: from Fascism (1928 – 1945) to the Cold War and new world order (1948 – 1964), to the unrest of '68 and the Biennales chaired by Carlo Ripa di Meana (1974 – 1978), then from the postmodernism to the first Architecture Biennale and until the 1990s, and the beginning of globalization.
№ – The 1990s: From nation states to a global Biennale.
№ – The 1990s: From nation states to a global Biennale.
The exhibition, designed by Formafantasma it is conceived based on the possibility of demounting, repairing and to eventually recomposing the structures in different arrangements for future archival exhibitions. The displays are designed based on a few materials and elements: unpainted frames and tables in plywood composed together with coloured textile and out of scale black and white prints of photos and documents sourced from the archives of 'La Biennale'. The modular system allows to create different compositions and to adapt to the various spaces of the Giardini's Central Pavilion.
№ – The 1970s: Interdisciplinary and political work.
№ – The 1970s: Interdisciplinary and political work.
№ – Freedom for Chile, 1974.
№ – Freedom for Chile, 1974.
The system adds a three – dimensional quality to the bi – dimensional works on show. The modules are connected with brass inches, allowing to create also small booths for the display of sound pieces and video projections. To add more diversity to the otherwise uniform dimensions of the documents on display, the black and white blown up pictures and documents also work as architectural elements subdividing the space and providing a more intuitive understanding of the curatorial themes. The opening intervention on the facade well exemplifies this attitude. Formafantasma selected six different historical photos starting from 1897, documenting how the pavilion hosting the show, has been modified over the years to adapt to the styles and politics of the different eras.
№ – The first international architecture exhibition and Postmodernism, 1980.

Notes, References and External Links

1. The Venice Biennale (/ˌbiːɛˈnɑːleɪ, -li/; Italian: La Biennale di Venezia [la bi.enˈnaːle di veˈnɛttsja]; in English also called the "Venice Biennial") refers to an arts organization based in Venice and the name of the original and principal biennial exhibition the organization presents. The organization changed its name to the Biennale Foundation in 2009, while the exhibition is now called the Art Biennale to distinguish it from the organization and other exhibitions the Foundation organizes.

2. Cecilia Alemani is an Italian curator based in New York City. She is the Donald R. Mullen, Jr. Director & Chief Curator of High Line Art and the Artistic Director of the 59th Venice Biennale in 2021. She previously curated the 2017 Biennale's Italian pavilion and served as Artistic Director of the inaugural edition of the 2018 Art Basel Cities in Buenos Aires, held in 2018.

3. 'Le Muse Inquiete'. To mark the 125th anniversary of its foundation, Formafantasma has been invited by La Biennale di Venezia and Cecilia Alemani to design 'Le Muse Inquiete. When La Biennale di Venezia Meets History', an exhibition by Historical Archives of Contemporary Arts held in the Giardini della Biennale's Central Pavilion.


CONCEPT, DESIGN Andrea Trimarchi, Simone Farresin
DESIGN DEVELOPMENT Gregorio Gonella, Jeroen Van De Gruiter
PRODUCTION Tosetto Allestimenti
PHOTO CREDITS Marco Cappelletti – Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia


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