Triennale di Milano

15/07/2022 - 11/12/2022

Unknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries


The 23rd Triennale Milano International Exhibition will take place from 15 July to 11 December 2022, under the title "Unknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries". The International Exhibition is conceived as an important forum for reflecting on tendencies and contradictions of the present and on the urgency of the challenges currently facing our planet. It is a space for open, multilateral debate and interaction, in which a variety of disciplines, experiences, cultures and perspectives all come together.

The 23rd International Exhibition will comprise a whole constellation of exhibitions offering a huge variety of points of view and opening up to interdisciplinary perspectives. It will also include a series of International Participations, called for under the auspices of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) through official government channels.

The curatorship of the project has been entrusted to Ersilia Vaudo, an astrophysicist and Chief Diversity Officer at the European Space Agency (ESA). She 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. The installation design will be created by Francis Kéré, the founder of Kéré Architecture. He works between utopia and pragmatism, creating architectural projects with a particular focus on experimentation with materials of great symbolic impact, in which the imagination is energized by an approach to design influenced by Afro-futurism.

The carefully orchestrated structure of the exhibition is assisted by an Advisory Board, which consists 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 will also be a series of special projects entrusted to guests of honour: Giovanni Agosti, art historian 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; and Ingrid Paoletti, lecturer at the Politecnico di Milano University.

The 23rd International Exhibition is organised by Triennale Milano under the aegis of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) – which officially recognised the event on 1 December 2020 – and it is 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.

Unknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries

With its technological, biological and climatic changes, the present age has placed humanity in front of a different world. It has become clear that reality is full of mysteries: not only in the remotest corners of the universe, at the bottom of the oceans and in the origins of consciousness, but also in portions of the world closest to us, such as our bodies, cities, and the forests all around. By shifting our view away from anthropocentric certainties and by creating an exchange between the arts and sciences, the 23rd Triennale Milano International Exhibition, "Unknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries", will help visitors engage in the thrill of seeking, of being surprised, of feeling fragile before the vastness of mysteries. Not to dominate or eradicate them, but to learn to coexist with them.

In line with the tradition and heritage of the Triennale Milano International Exhibitions, the 23rd edition wants to engage us in an exploration, both as individuals and as humanity, through tensioning question marks and going beyond uncharted mysteries. Unknown Unknowns is a profound experience that gives us a chance to upend our idea of the world, no longer antagonistic towards what we do not know, but viewing it as a dimension to be lived in consciously, and even joyfully.

By blurring the boundaries, the 23rd International Exhibition will investigate how the interaction between reality and fiction can lead to new solutions and answers, considering the notion of instruments in broader terms and going beyond just their mechanical or technical aspects. Instruments of speculation, prototypes, and scientific and artistic experiments will be made to interact in order to highlight the ability of the human species to imagine what is not there, and how? to face up to it.

The 23rd International Exhibition will explore the unknown all around us, in search of a relationship that is not one of appropriation but rather one of sharing. The aim is to approach "Unknown Unknowns" with a sense of wonder and amazement by bringing about interdisciplinary influences, in order to imagine different futures and find new ways to inhabit them.

All the exhibitions will be installed within the spaces of Triennale Milano. An environmental installation, created by Francis Kéré, will rise up in the Palazzo dell’Arte, welcoming and accompanying visitors. International Participations will be located on the Galleria on the ground floor. The Triennale Milano’s Museo del Design Italiano will present a special edition focused on the theme.

The thematic exhibition will occupy 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 will present an exhibition that examines the great themes of the 23rd International Exhibition.

Other installations and projects specially conceived for the International Exhibition by a group of professionals from different disciplines will be on display inside the Palazzo dell’Arte.

Conceived as a project that extends well beyond the walls of Triennale site, "Unknown Unknowns" will also consist of different communication projects, that will expand its themes creating opportunities for reflection and discussion; a public program and symposia; and a catalogue with essays from scientists, scholars, designers, and critics.