Triennale di Milano

15/07/2022 - 11/12/2022

Unknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries


The 23rd Triennale Milano International Exhibition is taking 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 comprises a whole constellation of exhibitions offering a huge variety of points of view and opening up to interdisciplinary perspectives. It also includes 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 are 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, the most prestigious international award in this field. 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 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 are 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 is organised by Triennale Milano under the aegis of the 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, helps 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 investigates 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 are 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 explores 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 are installed within the spaces of Triennale Milano. An environmental installation, created by Francis Kéré, rises up at the entrance of the Palazzo dell’Arte, welcoming and accompanying visitors. International Participations are located on the Galleria on the ground floor. The Triennale Milano’s Museo del Design Italiano presents a special edition focused on the theme, entitled La tradizione del nuovo.

The thematic exhibition occupies 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 presents the exhibition Mondo Reale that examines the great themes of the 23rd International Exhibition. Other installations and projects specially conceived for the International Exhibition by a group of artists and professionals from different disciplines are on display inside the Palazzo dell’Arte.

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

International Participants

Entangled relations – Animated bodies
Organising institution: MAK – Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna
Curator: Marlies Wirth

Burkina Faso
Drawn Together
Exhibition designed and developed by Francis Kéré

Organising body: CCPIT Construction branch
Curator and Exhibition Designer: Weibing Liu

Organising institution: Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia
Curators: Lea Pelivan, Toma Plejić

Hortus Ignotus. The Unknown Garden
Commissioner: Katerina Koutsogianni (CAA, Cyprus Architects Association)
Co-organizers: Cultural Services of Cyprus Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth and Cyprus Architects Association
Curators: Christiana Ioannou, Daphne Kokkini, Spyros Nasainas, Christos Papastergiou

Czech Republic
Casa Immaginaria: Living in a Dream
Organising Institution: Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic
Curator: Adam Štěch

Democratic Republic of Congo
Resourceful Utopia: Through Devious Water & Regenerative Energy
Organising body: Picha ASBL Art Center
Curators: The Picha Art Center collective

Situations. Strategies for Inhabiting Instability: Phenomena, Events, Coincidences
Organising institution: Institut français
Exhibition Design: Juliette Gelli, Romain Guillet, Pablo Bras

Nomadic Cosmologies and Fugitive Power - Red Forest Radiograms
Organising institution: Goethe-Institut Mailand
Curator: Red Forest

A Nubian Landscape
Organising institution: Gallery 1957
Curator: Marwan Zakhem

Organising institution: Honorary Consulate of Kenya, Milan (Francesco Confuorti, Hon. Consul of Kenya, Milan)
Curators: Luca Beatrice, Wanjiru Waweru Waithaka

Lesotho Water Realms. A visual research on geopolitics, society and rituals
Organising body: Rise International
Curators: Luca Astorri, Daniela Gusman, Matteo Poli Dastu

Essay on Oneiric Flora
Organising institutions: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Mexico, Ministry of Culture of the Government of Mexico, National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature
Comissioner: Consulate General of Mexico in Milan

The Netherlands
Have we met? Humans and non-humans on common ground

Organising institution: Het Nieuwe Instituut
Curators: Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Ellen Zoete

Greenhouse Silent Disco
Organising institutions: Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Architecture Museum in Wrocław
Curators: Małgorzata Devosges-Cuber, Michał Duda

Roma Pavilion
And the One doesn’t Stir without the Other
Organising institution: European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC)
Curators: Timea Junghaus, Marc N Hörler

Beyond Boundaries - A Key to Community
Organising institution: Ministry of Youth and Culture of the Republic of Rwanda

Infinity of Structure
Organising Institution: Museum of Applied Art in Belgrade on behalf of the Ministry of Culture and Information, Republic of Serbia
Curators: Biljana Jotić, Nataša Radojević

Australia, Canada and Peru are also taking part in the “Unknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries” public programme with dedicated initiatives.