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Triennale Milano
Halley VI Research Station, photo James Morris

This variety of points of view

April 10 2020
The first seminar dedicated to the XXIII International Exhibition 2022 took place on March 4, 2020, while the Triennale was closed to the public due to the Coronavirus emergency. It was joined by experts in various fields, from astrophysics to philosophy, ethology, visual art, geopolitics and robotics. The seminar was composed of two different parts, the first one was for internal use and the second one, shorter, was open to the public and broadcasted live.
The team in charge of coordinating the International Exhibition and organising the seminar suggests some reflections emerged during that day. Each of them provides a personal review of the richness and complexity of the topics covered. It is a multi-perspective story that we want to share to make the preparatory work behind the XXIII International Exhibition accessible to all.
On March 4, some preliminary research work was carried out at the Triennale Theatre in preparation for the 23rd International Exhibition; it was a multi-part conversation to focus on key issues and top priorities for 2022. The method used to start the reflection was quite unique: some contemporary cultural and scientific personalities were identified and invited to present the contents of their investigations with an eye to the present situation. This variety of points of view offers breadth of perspective, a high level of specialisation and multidisciplinary interaction. The strengths of this working method are the refusal of hegemonic claims, the central role of the discussion, and a focus on the challenges posed by the contemporary world.
Based on the art historian Giovanni Agosti’s speech, the first convergence was about the value of sensory experience for viewers of works of art and exhibitions. The astrophysicist Ersilia Vaudo Scarpetta observed that the absence of perceptual ability in space acts as a counter-proof of its link with the terrestrial system. As if to say that the earth draws the boundaries of the sensitive processes that make us human. These reflections are linked to that of Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, who identified the need to overcome the distinction between nature and culture, based on an anthropocentric concept. The philosopher Emanuele Coccia highlighted the problems of a patriarchal perspective, which makes the planet coincide with a hierarchical domestic space. This approach tends to dominate the variety and interconnectedness of the living world with a project aimed at its manipulation. The unity of different species should be seen in the light of the metamorphosis that connects the parts of the whole and tells them apart. This is particularly obvious if we look at lives in their statu nascendi (in the state of being born), because birth gives us a concrete sense of proliferation of the existing. The representation of birth can provide a starting point to reflect on metamorphic processes and restore dignity to every mineral, plant and animal. According to ethologist Donato Antonio Grasso, this dignity is respected in interspecific self-preservation systems. For example, a very close symbiosis is created between ants and plants, protecting both of them and decentralising their mutual survival interests. This microcosm works as a superorganism in which the existence of one part is critical to that of the other.
Adopting a horizontal, multidimensional approach has therefore produced excellent results, proving that different starting points can integrate and evolve into a thorough understanding of the challenges of the contemporary world.
Video of the event Towards the XXIII International Exhibition of Triennale Milano on 4 March 2020