After seven months jam-packed with showcases of more than 1,500 artworks by 218 artists from 58 countries, the 2022 edition of the Venice Biennale has closed. Though held amid seismic international events including the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the show attracted a staggering number of visitors: more than 800,000, plus an additional 22,500 people who went to the various previews.
The record-breaking figure represents a 35 percent increase compared to ticket sales in 2019, though the fair did run for 197 days in 2022 instead of the 173 that year. More impressive is the fact that the visitors—59 percent of which were foreign and 41 percent Italian—made the journey amid pandemic-related travel restrictions.
Additionally, the fair’s official Instagram account gained more than 136,000 new followers since the 2022 edition opened in April, with the most popular post featuring an image of Golden Lion winner Cecilia Vicuña.
Curator Cecilia Alemani took to social media to thank participants and reflect on the obstacles she faced organizing the event. “It’s been a very long journey that took us through a pandemic, a cruel war, and a collective sense of uncertainty,” she wrote. “To organize this exhibition under such circumstances has been a great adventure, but not one without hurdles and complications.”
Alemani organized the event remotely, conducting hundreds of virtual studio visits with artists, most of whom were unable to visit the site ahead of time. “Nobody knew if the artworks would get to Venice on time,” she said.
Most of the artworks did in fact arrive, and both the main exhibition—”The Milk of Dreams,” heavily weighted with female artists and Surrealist-inflected work—as well as the national pavilions were heralded as overwhelming successes. As Alemani wrote in the catalogue, “Despite the climate that forged it, this is an optimistic exhibition, which celebrates art and its capacity to create alternative cosmologies and new conditions of existence.”
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