An overview of the state of contemporary art and its ultimate trends. The Encyclopedic Palace is the title chosen by the director for the 55th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. It evokes the design registered in 1955 with the US Patent office by the self-taught artist Marino Auriti, depicting an imaginary museum that was meant to house all worldly knowledge, bringing together the greatest discoveries of the human race, from the wheel to the satellite. Auriti’s plan was never carried out, but the dream of a universal, all-embracing knowledge crops up throughout history, shared by other eccentrics (among them artists, writers, scientists, and prophets) who tried to fashion an image of the world that would capture its infinite variety and richness. Today, as we grapple with a flood of information, such attempts to structure knowledge into all-inclusive systems seem even more necessary and even more desperate. The aim of the 55th International Art Exhibition is to explore these flights of the imagination in a show that—like Auriti’s Encyclopedic Palace—combines works of contemporary art with historical artifacts and found objects.
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Massimiliano Gioni is a curator and an art critic based in New York. In 2007, he was appointed curator of the exhibits at the New Museum, New York. He’s been involved in a wide range of projects, from the Venice Biennale (2003) to the Berlin Bienniale (Of Mice and Men, 2006), from Manifesta 5 (San Sebastian, Spain, 2005) to the 8th Gwangju Biennial (South Korea, 2010).
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