Dates15/07/2022 - 11/12/2022
ThemeUnknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries
The 23rd Triennale Milano International Exhibition took place from 15 July to 11 December 2022*, under the title “Unknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries.”
The 23rd International Exhibition comprised a whole constellation of exhibitions that offered a huge variety of points of view and opened up to interdisciplinary perspectives. It also included a series of International Participations, called for under the auspices of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) through official government channels.
The mains curators of the 23rd International Exhibition were Ersilia Vaudo, astrophysicist and Chief Diversity Officer at the European Space Agency (ESA), and Francis Kéré, founder of Kéré Architecture and winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize 2022. Ersilia Vaudo was chosen for her ability to represent the point of confluence between disciplines and to introduce a narrative that opens up critical approaches and points of view. Francis Kéré worked between utopia and pragmatism and created architectural projects with a particular focus on experimentation with materials of great symbolic impact, in which the imagination was energized by an approach to design influenced by Afro-futurism.
The carefully orchestrated structure of the exhibition was assisted by an Advisory Board, which consisted of Hervé Chandès, General Director, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain; Emanuele Coccia, philosopher and professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, Joseph Grima, curator, architect and author; Sarah Ichioka, urban planner, curator and author; Mariana Siracusa, designer and researcher; and Weng Ling, curator and founder of Arts Innovation. There were also a series of special projects entrusted to guests of honour: Giovanni Agosti and Jacopo Stoppa, art historians at the University of Milan; Francesco Bianconi, musician and writer; Romeo Castellucci, artist and Grand Invité at Triennale for the four-year period 2021-4; Ingrid Paoletti, lecturer at the Politecnico di Milano University; and Andrea Branzi, master of architecture and design.
The 23rd International Exhibition was organised by Triennale Milano under the aegis of the BIE – which officially recognised the event on 1 December 2020 – and it was promoted in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, with the support of institutional members of Fondazione La Triennale di Milano: the Italian Ministry of Culture, Lombardy Region, the Municipality of Milan, and the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce of Milan, Monza, Brianza and Lodi.
* The thematic exhibition and the exhibitions La Tradizione del Nuevo and Mondo Reale were extended until 8 January 2023
The four global crises of this millennium – fundamentalist terrorism, the collapse of financial markets, the pandemic, and wars between peoples –, accompanied by the continual and increasingly alarming background noise of the climate crisis, suggest a great and unavoidable question about the future of the human species. A question that regards the very meaning of our existence in the world and of our habitation of a small planet revolving around a Star that constitutes only an irrelevant grain in the infinite system of galaxies.
The great constellation of exhibitions, installations, projects, and events of "Unknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries", the 23rd Triennale Milano International Exhibition, was not aimed at gradually conquering the vast territory that is beyond our knowledge. It aimed rather to explore it with the attitude of those who choose first of all the challenge of empathy, the exclusively human ability to see with the eyes of the other living beings and to map the confines of the contemporary unknown from these varied perspectives.
The 23rd International Exhibition offered new perspectives on the unknown: from the most distant universe of dark matter, from the bottom of the oceans at the origin of our consciousness. What we do not know that we do not know is not the realisation of a limit, but the perception of a form of knowledge that respects the unknown, sometimes embracing it, sometimes crossing it, sometimes eluding it. But always accepting it as a constant presence in our life.
Unknown Unknowns was a constellation of exhibitions, installations, and projects that brought together over 400 artists, designers, architects, and scientists from over 40 countries and 23 international participations.
All the exhibitions were installed within the spaces of Triennale Milano. An environmental installation, The Future's Present, a 12-metre-high tower created by Francis Kéré, rose up at the entrance of the Palazzo dell’Arte. Inside the Triennale building, an installation conceived by Emanuele Coccia, Portal of Mysteries, welcomed visitors and introduced them to the themes of the Exhibition.
International participations were located on the Galleria on the ground floor. Triennale Milano’s Museo del Design Italiano presented a special edition focused on the theme, entitled La tradizione del nuovo. The exhibition, curated by Marco Sammicheli – director of the Museo del Design Italiano – constituted the Italian Pavillion.
The thematic exhibition Unknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries, curated by Ersilia Vaudo, occupied the Curva space on the first floor of the Palazzo dell’Arte. In the Cubo space, the Paris-based Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain presented the exhibition Mondo Reale examining the great themes of the 23rd International Exhibition.
A series of installations and special projects also involved art historians Giovanni Agosti and Jacopo Stoppa, musician and writer Francesco Bianconi, philosopher Emanuele Coccia, researcher and professor at Milan Polytechnic Ingrid Paoletti, artist and Triennale’s Grand Invité for the period 2021-2024 Romeo Castellucci, and master of architecture and design Andrea Branzi, with architect Lapo Lani.
Conceived as a project that extends well beyond the walls of Triennale site, Unknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries also consisted of different communication projects that expanded its themes, creating opportunities for reflection and discussion (the Game Collection Vol.2; the virtual reality experience 1923: Past Futures; different series of podcasts; the articles and interviews on Triennale Magazine); a public programme and symposia; and two publications with essays from scientists, scholars, designers, artists, and critics.
AustriaEntangled relations – Animated bodies Organising institution: MAK – Museum of Applied Arts, ViennaCurator: Marlies Wirth
Burkina Faso Drawn TogetherExhibition designed and developed by Francis Kéré
ChinaInvisible Organising body: CCPIT Construction branchCurator and Exhibition Designer: Weibing Liu
CroatiaMirror/MirrorOrganising institution: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of CroatiaCurators: Lea Pelivan, Toma Plejić
CyprusHortus Ignotus. The Unknown GardenCommissioner: Katerina Koutsogianni (CAA, Cyprus Architects Association)Co-organizers: Cultural Services of Cyprus Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth and Cyprus Architects AssociationCurators: Christiana Ioannou, Daphne Kokkini, Spyros Nasainas, Christos Papastergiou
Czech RepublicCasa Immaginaria: Living in a Dream Organising Institution: Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, Ministry of Culture of the Czech RepublicCurator: Adam Štěch
Democratic Republic of CongoResourceful Utopia: Through Devious Water & Regenerative EnergyOrganising body: Picha ASBL Art CenterCurators: The Picha Art Center collective
FranceSituations. Strategies for Inhabiting Instability: Phenomena, Events, Coincidences Organising institution: Institut françaisExhibition Design: Juliette Gelli, Romain Guillet, Pablo Bras
GermanyNomadic Cosmologies and Fugitive Power - Red Forest Radiograms Organising institution: Goethe-Institut MailandCurator: Red Forest
GhanaA Nubian LandscapeOrganising institution: Gallery 1957Curator: Marwan Zakhem
KenyaujumbeOrganising institution: Honorary Consulate of Kenya, Milan (Francesco Confuorti, Hon. Consul of Kenya, Milan)Curators: Luca Beatrice, Wanjiru Waweru Waithaka
LesothoLesotho Water Realms. A visual research on geopolitics, society and ritualsOrganising body: Rise InternationalCurators: Luca Astorri, Daniela Gusman, Matteo Poli Dastu
MexicoEssay on Oneiric FloraOrganising institutions: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Mexico, Ministry of Culture of the Government of Mexico, National Institute of Fine Arts and LiteratureComissioner: Consulate General of Mexico in Milan
The NetherlandsHave we met? Humans and non-humans on common ground Organising institution: Het Nieuwe InstituutCurators: Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Ellen Zoete
PolandGreenhouse Silent Disco Organising institutions: Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Architecture Museum in WrocławCurators: Małgorzata Devosges-Cuber, Michał Duda
Roma PavilionAnd the One doesn’t Stir without the OtherOrganising institution: European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC)Curators: Timea Junghaus, Marc N Hörler
RwandaBeyond Boundaries - A Key to CommunityOrganising institution: Ministry of Youth and Culture of the Republic of Rwanda
SerbiaInfinity of StructureOrganising Institution: Museum of Applied Art in Belgrade on behalf of the Ministry of Culture and Information, Republic of SerbiaCurators: Biljana Jotić, Nataša Radojević
Australia, Canada and Peru also participated in the “Unknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries” public programme with dedicated initiatives.