Massimiliano Gioni introduced the choice of theme evoking the artist self-taught Italian-American Marino Auriti that“on November 16, 1955 filed a design with the US Patent office depicting his Palazzo Enciclopedico (The Encyclopedic Palace), 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, of course, but the dream of universal, all-embracing knowledge crops up throughout history, as one that eccentrics like Auriti share with many other artists, writers, scientists, and prophets who have tried – often in vain – to fashion an image of the world that will capture its infinite variety and richness. These personal cosmologies, with their delusions of omniscience, shed light on the constant challenge of reconciling the self with the universe, the subjective with the collective, the specific with the general, the individual with the culture of her time.”
“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 – explained Gioni. The 55th International Exhibition of Art will explore these flights of the imagination in a show that—like Auriti’sEncyclopedic Palace—will combine works of contemporary art with historical artefacts and found objects.”
The exhibition will place at its heart “a reflection on the ways in which images have been used to organize knowledge and shape our experience of the world.” Inspired by what scholar Hans Belting has called “an anthropology of images”, the Biennale Arte 2013 curated by Massimiliano Gioni will attempt “an inquiry in the realms of the imaginary and the functions of imagination.
What room is left for internal images – for dreams, hallucinations and visions – in an era besieged by external ones? And what is the point of creating an image of the world when the world itself has become increasingly like an image? How far does the domain of the imaginary extend, when people are still fighting in the name of images?”
“Like the theatres of memory devised in the 16th century by Venetian philosopher Giulio Camillo – mental cathedrals invented to order knowledge through pictures and magical associations – the exhibition “Encyclopedic Palace” will compile – concluded Gioni – a cartography of our image-world, composing a bestiary of the imagination.”