Earth at night, detail, NASA

Triennale is home to a world

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.

Maria-Jose Viñas, NASA

The reflections shared by scientists, oceanographers, virologists, and researchers during the symposium on March 4 have received immediate feedback in the real world. The oceanographer Nadia Pinardi, the astrophysicist Ersilia Vaudo Scarpetta, the ethologist Donato Antonio Grasso, the virologist Ilaria Capua, the researcher Francesco Pomati, the marine biologist Mariasole Bianco in some way announced the emergence of a precipitating situation. There is no political, social or religious event that has not been impacted by the healthcare emergency and by the measures put in place to contain the pandemic, as well as by climate change, and assessments have been made by economists and jurists on the use of big data and the privacy policies that massive use of artificial intelligence are repeatedly calling into question. The circle ends with the assessments of academics, experts, and intellectuals, whose cultural institutions are gravely concerned about the future.

The invitation by the art historian Giovanni Agosti, a professor at the University of Milan, was clear and direct. Triennale Milano will have make a difficult choice concerning the theme of the forthcoming International Exhibition in 2022, focusing on a history of issues that go against cultural fashions and jargon-filled trivialities. A history that is told not from the point of view of the victorious, but that takes into account other points of view, since fashion and taste have a huge influence on our decisions.
A clear interpretation of the data cannot be the only way of assigning what is right in history. For Triennale, Agosti suggests a self-analysis of the place where the experience of the work in space is essential if it is to bring out further energies. For an exhibition to be worthy of the name, it must create a force field that is different from that of other events and it must do so by means of the relationship it establishes with the public in that place, intensifying its humanity.

The role of the Palazzo dell’Arte is that of an epicentre and hub of an exhibition network. It is born of tradition but now also the mother of an evolution that needs to open up with optimism and with a sense of itself as an institution.
Triennale Milano is home to a world, and its flag-bedecked facade has been a symbol and often a response to the crisis facing the representation of themes and countries. The fact that it has been part of the Bureau International des Expositions for almost a hundred years is key to ensuring exhibition opportunities with cultural policies that promote the minority vocation of communities, forms of expression, and disciplines.

Joe MacGregor⁣, NASA

In conclusion, if curators, artists, designers, and researchers have difficulty in resolving a complex theme in the national pavilions, it becomes even harder if the interpretation of the theme is related to the compact iteration of cases and works in a theme-based exhibition. And indeed, Agosti insists on the need to ensure the quality of what is on show and on its figurative rendering in order to respond to the problem of knowledge that afflicts a younger generation that has lost its cognitive instruments.

The Palazzo dell’Arte therefore needs to bring together these contradictions, as a space that takes in models of positive otherness and best practices. It needs to be on the fringes, but not the fringe itself. And yet not at the centre either. It needs to consider a geography in the making and become an agitator in a reforming debate on what can become an international exhibition as part of the Bureau International des Expositions, with a centuries-old tradition.

Video of the event Towards the XXIII International Exhibition of Triennale Milano on 4 March 2020

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