The Exhibition Il Palazzo Enciclopedico (The Encyclopedic Palace) will be laid out in the Central Pavilion (Giardini) and in the Arsenale forming a single itinerary, with works spanning over the past century alongside several new commissions, including over 150 artists from 38 countries.
The Exhibition draws inspiration from the model of a utopian dream by Marino Auriti who filed a design with the U.S. Patent office in 1955, depicting his Palazzo Enciclopedico (The Encyclopedic Palace), an imaginary museum that was meant to house all worldly knowledge. Auriti created a model of a 136-story building to be built in Washington D.C., which would stand seven hundred meters tall and take up over sixteen square city blocks.
“Auriti’s plan was never carried out, of course – says Massimiliano Gioni - but the dream of a universal, all-embracing knowledge crops up throughout the history of art and humanity, as one that eccentrics like Auriti share with many other artists, writers, scientists, and self-proclaimed prophets who have tried — often in vain — to fashion an image of the world that will capture its infinite variety and richness. Today, as we grapple with a constant flood of information, such attempts seem even more necessary and even more desperate.”
“Blurring the line between professional artists and amateurs, outsiders and insiders, the exhibition takes an anthropological approach to the study of images, focusing in particular on the realms of the imaginary and the functions of the 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?”
Il Palazzo Enciclopedico (The Encyclopedic Palace) investigates the desire to see and know everything: it is a show about obsessions and about the transformative power of the imagination. The exhibition opens in the Central Pavilion with a presentation of Carl Gustav Jung’s Red Book. “In the vast hall of the Arsenale - redesigned for this occasion in collaboration with architect Annabelle Selldorf - the exhibition sketches a progression from natural forms to studies of the human body, to the artifice of the digital age, loosely following the typical layout of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century cabinets of curiosities. Through the many examples of artworks and figurative expressions on view, including films, photographs, videos, bestiaries, labyrinths, performances and installations, The Encyclopedic Palace emerges as an elaborate but fragile construction, a mental architecture that is as fantastical as it is delirious.”
“The Encyclopedic Palace – concludes Gioni - is a show that illustrate a condition we all share: we ourselves are media, channeling images, or at times even finding ourselves possessed by images.”