23rd Milan Triennale: a journey into the unknown

From July 15 to December 11, 2022, Milan Triennale hosts the 23rd Triennale, entitled Unknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries

The unknown, what “we don’t know we don’t know,” is the main theme of the 23rd Triennale di Milano, whose main curators are Ersilia Vaudo, astrophysicist, and Francis Kéré, architect from Burkina Faso, recipient of the Pritzker Prize in 2022. The various exhibitions that make up Triennale 2022 involved about 400 artists, designers, and architects from more than 40 countries; there are 23 international participations, with a strong presence of the African continent, represented by 6 national pavilions (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda).

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View of the Grand Staircase, ph; DSL Studio, courtesy of Triennale

The main themed exhibition, curated by astrophysicist Ersilia Vaudo, showcases more than one hundred works, projects and installations. The curator has chosen different elements, analyzed from a design perspective. Gravity, for example, is an element that shapes the reality around us and gives rise to ever-changing forms. Then, the unknown future, poses different challenges, such as inhabiting other planets, or using known materials for new – and perhaps as yet unknown – functions; finally, the deep space, which we even struggle to imagine, which are usually the subjects of movies full of special effects.

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Main exhibition Unknown Unknowns, curated by Ersilia Vaudo, ph: DSL Studio, courtesy of Triennale

This show includes four special commissions that Triennale has handed to the Japanese artist Yuri Suzuki, the Italian designer Irene Stracuzzi, the US architects’ collective SOM, and the Turkish-American artist Refik Anadol. As well as the commissioned works, the show will include a series of site-specific installations, including those produced by Andrea Galvani, Bosco Sodi, Protey Temen, Julijonas Urbonas, Marie Velardi, and the adaptation of a work by Tomás Saraceno.

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Main exhibition Unknown Unknowns, installation by Andrea Galvani, ph: DSL Studio, courtesy of Triennale

A 3D-printed recyclable setup

Another highlight of the main themed exhibition is the setup designed by Space Caviar and created by WASP. This is the first time that a setup has been entirely created onsite in the spaces of Triennale, with 3D printing. All of the materials are of natural original and largely deriving from the food industry.

23rd Milan Triennale: La tradizione del nuovo

The Museum of Italian Design is participating in the 23rd Milan Triennale with the exhibition La tradizione del nuovo, curated by Marco Sammicheli, director of the Museum of Italian Design and curator of the Triennale for the design, fashion and craft sectors. The exhibition recounts the history of the Triennale from 1964 to 1996, with a double track combining chronology and related themes.

Discover the Museum of Italian Design at Triennale Milano

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Entrance to the exhibition La tradizione del nuovo. Exhibition design by studio Zaven, ph: DSL Studio, courtesy of Triennale

It shows the story of the last 60 years in communication and design. The products and furniture, of course, but not only. Protagonists are also publishing, events, communication, commerce, and technology. The title La tradizione del nuovo (The tradition of the new), in fact, is intended precisely to emphasize the Italian aptitude for research and experimentation, which have made the “new” such a well-integrated part of our everyday life that it has become a tradition. Exhibition design by Zaven studio.

Exhibition La tradizione del nuovo; in the foreground, Ines, a prototype robotic maid, designed by Denis Santachiara for Kartell, 1986. Ph: DSL Studio, courtesy of Triennale

Architecture at the 23rd Triennale Milano: Francis Kéré

Pritzker Prize winner Francis Kéré, in addition to being main curator, has created four installations concerning the images and voices of the African continent. The first one welcomes us outside. The Future’s Present is a 12-meter-high tower located in the square in front of Triennale, decorated with contemporary interpretations of traditional motifs of Burkina Faso architecture. The installation Yesterday’s Tomorrow, at the center of the international participations section, brings to life the vernacular architecture of Burkina Faso. Kéré also designed the installation Under a Coffee Tree, in collaboration with Triennale and Lavazza Group, displayed at the Triennale Café. Lastly, Burkina Faso, which is participating in the International Exhibition for the first time, commissioned Kéré to design the Drawn Together installation, a wall that visitors are invited to create together.

Installation by Francis Kéré, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, ph: DSL Studio, courtesy of Triennale

Mondo Reale by Fondation Cartier

The other major exhibition at the 23rd Triennale is Mondo Reale, curated by Fondation Cartier, which contrasts the universal unknown and brings us back to Earth. Seventeen international artists guide the visitor into a world of beauty and contemplation. Curated by Hervé Chandès, Artistic Managing Director of Fondation Cartier, the exhibition path has been designed by the duo Formafantasma. Participating artists include Jean-Michel Alberola, Alex Cerveny, Jaider Esbell, Fabrice Hyber, Yann Kebbi, Guillermo Kuitca, Hu Liu, David Lynch, Ron Mueck, Virgil Ortiz, Artavazd Pelechian, Sho Shibuya, Alev Ebüzziya Siesbye, Patti Smith, Sarah Sze, Andrei Ujica, Jessica Wynne.

Mondo Reale, curated by Fondation Carter, exhibition design by Formafantasma. Ph: Andrea Rossetti, courtesy of Triennale

The international participations

There are 23 international participations in the 23rd Triennale, promoted by institutions and universities that are international excellences and by numerous governments. Compared to previous editions, the presence of the African continent, represented by 6 countries, is particularly relevant. The international participations delve into new architectural, artistic and design challenges, with innovative solutions such as sustainable living or inhabiting virtual spaces. The Italian Pavilion is represented by the exhibition La tradizione del nuovo.

French Pavilion, ph: DSL Studio, courtesy of Triennale

The installations and special projects

The International Exhibition includes a series of special projects, commissioned by Triennale from a number of personalities in the world of culture. These include Il Corridoio Rosso (The Red Corridor), curated by Giovanni Agosti and Jacopo Stoppa, with exhibition design by Margherita Palli; Playing the Unknown, curated by Francesco Bianconi; and the video installation Portal of Mysteries, which welcomes the visitors by introducing the themes of the exhibitions, created by the Dotdotdot studio and conceived by Emanuele Coccia.

Video installation Portal of Mysteries, created by Dotdotdot and conceived by Emanuele Coccia. Ph: DSL Studio, courtesy of Triennale

Ingrid Paoletti, in collaboration with other professors at Politecnico di Milano, presents the Alchemic Laboratory project, dedicated to natural and synthetic materials.

Alchemic Laboratory, Ph: DSL Studio, courtesy of Triennale

The International Exhibition is also an opportunity to celebrate a master of architecture and design such as Andrea Branzi, who together with Lapo Lani presents Andrea Branzi. Mostra in forma di prosa – An Exhibition in the Form of Prose (from July 20 to September 4, 2022), a film that traces Branzi’s 70-year career. Finally, the exhibition space around Casa Lana houses the exhibition Ettore Sottsass. Il calcolo, the second event in the cycle dedicated to the architect and designer devoted to Sottsass’s collaboration with Olivetti.

Ettore Sottsass. Il calcolo, ph: DSL Studio, courtesy of Triennale

Planeta Ukrain at 23rd Milan Triennale

Planeta Ukrain, the Ukrainian Pavilion at the 23rd Triennale, which is articulated in different spaces of Triennale Milano, deserves a special mention. Curated by writer Gianluigi Ricuperati with actress Lidiya Liberman and pianist Anastasia Stovbyr, Planeta Ukrain presents an overview of contemporary Ukrainian culture touching on different disciplinary areas. The project consists of the site-specific installation The Checkpoint for the President of Planet Earth by Nikita Kadan at the entrance to Palazzo dell’Arte, an exhibition bringing together a number of Ukrainian artists, and a rich program of meetings and events on different disciplinary fields.

Planeta Ukrain, ph: DSL Studio, courtesy of Triennale

The 23rd Milan Triennale

The 239th International Exhibition, 23rd Triennale Milano, is organized under the aegis of the Bureau International des Expositions, in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. It is also supported by the 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, Lodi.

The partners of the 239th International Exhibition (23rd Triennale Milano) are Eni and Lavazza Group, Main Partners; Franklin Templeton, Partner; ViveArts, VR Partner; Scalo Milano Outlet & More, Education Partner; Rai Cultura, Rai 5 and Radio Rai 1, Media Partners; IGPDecaux, Out of Home Partner; Salone del Mobile.Milano, Institutional Partner; ATM, Institutional Technical Partner.

Triennale di Milano, from July 15 to December 11, 2022

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