For the penultimate episode of Season 5, Sky Goodden interviews Cecilia Alemani, the Artistic Director of the 59th Venice Biennale. After three years of research and commissioning (an extended period of preparation, due to the pandemic) and 7 months of The Milk of Dreams being open to an immense public, Alemani takes a rearview look onto a show that responded to—and endured—several seismic shocks over the course of its run, and was, in so many respects, unprecedented. She touches on “history knocking on the door of the biennial” with regards to both the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, and the ways in which she embedded history in the exhibition, in turn. She also speaks to the impact of art writing, both its influence on a longer-researched edition of the biennial—one “curated from a desk”—but also in terms of the reviews, too, some of which underscored the need for more female-driven programming. Perhaps most poignantly, Alemani remembers the slow time of this show’s creation, and her drawing on sensorial and somatic influences, however unconsciously, as she worked at a remove from artists’ studios. “I think [the biennial] was a reaction to what I missed the most.”
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