It is almost ready the programme of the XIV Florence Biennale. International Exhibition of Contemporary Art and Design, which will be held at the Fortezza da Basso in Florence from 14 to 22 October.
The theme of the event - "I Am You. Individual and Collective Identities in Contemporary Art and Design" - focuses on the concepts of individual and collective identities, in their multiple philosophical, psychological, sociological and cultural meanings; a theme that proved to be very stimulating as over 600 artists and designers from all five continents have already registered for this edition of the Florence Biennale.
The programme is about to be finalised, but it is already possible to draw up a list of the prizes and special projects that will characterise the 2023 edition of the exhibition that will occupy the spaces of the Spadolini Pavilion and the Cavaniglia Pavilion at the Fortezza da Basso.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
As already announced, American photographer David LaChapelle and Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava will be the recipients, respectively, of the 'Lorenzo il Magnifico Award' and the 'Leonardo da Vinci Award', both for Lifetime Achievement.
LaChapelle will be awarded the prize on 17 October and for the occasion, in the exhibition space dedicated to him, it will be possible to admire a selection of photographs taken between 2009 and 2023, plus an unpublished series in world premiere in collaboration with the famous rapper Tedua, who will be present at the award ceremony by David LaChapelle as well.
Calatrava, who will be awarded the prize on Thursday 19 October, will exhibit in the Cavaniglia Pavilion about ten models of projects for Italy - realised and not - concerning the cities of Florence, Venice, Rome, Reggio Emilia, Genoa and the port-island of Marina d'Arechi, near Salerno.
Awards from the President
There is a large group of artists and designers as Guests of Honour at the XIV Florence Biennale who will have a dedicated space in the exhibition. Two of them will receive the 'Lorenzo il Magnifico Lifetime Achievement Award' from the President. The first is the Milanese artist, designer and sculptor Amalia Del Ponte, who will present a new work on the theme, created especially for this edition. The second is Peruvian painter and engraver Enrique Galdos Rivas, born in 1933 and known as 'El Mago del Color', who will exhibit some of his best-known works and to whom a musical performance will also be dedicated, with the participation of his daughters Martha and Blanca Galdos. In addition, Natalia Almada, great-granddaughter of Mexican President Elìas Calles, awarded at the "Sundance Film Festival" in Salt Lake City (USA) for the direction of the documentary Users (focusing on the relationship between people and technology), which has never been shown in Italy. Last but not least, the Memory Award and the memorial space dedicated to the Argentinean photographer and architect Raquel Bigio, who participated in the 13th Florence Biennale in 2021 and passed away last year.
Guests of Honour
The XIV Florence Biennale will also offer other spaces dedicated to Guests of Honour: two of these - the Bulgarian photographer Viktoria Andreeva and the French digital artist Jean-Michel Bihorel - will be the winners of the International Open Call Competition organised in collaboration with Art Market Magazine and Lens Magazine.
Other Guests of Honour - each with their own space in the exhibition - will be the Russian photographer Kristina Makeeva, a refugee in Great Britain after the invasion of Ukraine in total dissent with the Putin regime; the journalist Giammarco Sicuro who, in collaboration with Unicef, will present "Can you smile for me? L'infanzia sperduta" (Can you smile for me? Lost childhood), an evocative photographic exhibition whose subject is children involved in the war scenarios of the countries visited by the RAI reporter; the Chinese artist Lv Zhong Yuan who is proposing abstract works, including one dedicated to the theme of the exhibition; paper-artist Federica Ricotti, already the creator of the Lupaski character for the Corriere dei piccoli, reproposed because of a new publication that will appear by the end of this year, who at the Fortezza da Basso will present unpublished strips, specially created on the main theme of the XIV Florence Biennale.
As for design, the presence of ADI - Associazione per il Disegno Industriale (Industrial Design Association) is also planned for this edition with an exhibition dedicated to the milestones of design: a selection of products awarded the Compasso d'Oro and ADI Index.
Among the Special Projects of this edition of the Florence Biennale, it should be noted I Am Ukraine, with the participation of a dozen artists from Ukraine, including a couple of female painters - mother and daughter - who fled the war-torn country, who will be exhibiting both physical and digital works at the Fortezza da Basso.
Another special project is entitled I Am Mahsa dedicated to Mahsa Amini, whose death started the protest demonstrations against the repression perpetrated by the regime in Iran. In this space, the public will find a wider selection of works created by artists (mostly women) almost all resident in Iran; among the sculptures, there is one that portrays a girl in the act of draping her veil over her face until it is almost torn off; also not to be missed is a collection of jewellery by Sogand Nobahar, "MyCity Bloody Tehran", inspired by the architecture of the Iranian capital, but which will appear bloodied to the visitor as a reminder of the violence of the repressions still in progress.
Also among the special projects to be mentioned is the presence of three disability centres in Tuscany (l'Abbraccio, l'Aquilone and l'Arcolaio), which will present works on the theme of the Florence Biennale 2023.
Two special projects will concern jewellery: Harper's Bazaar Jewelry will return to the Fortezza, as well as a space for the students of the University of Siena's Master of Jewellery.
Performances and other presences
Also to be noted are the participation of a collective of 10 Maori artists (the "Tāhū - A Legacy of People and Place" project), by an Australian Aboriginal artist, a collective of Argentinian artists led by master Ricardo Juarez, the performances by the Karakorum group (contemporary dance) and by Lynn Guo and Viola Panik on the theme of body shaming, with an invitation to the public to write - on Viola's body - a word expressing their discomfort.
Among the performances, also the one by artist/composer Sergio Maltagliati that combines visual and sound arts and an interesting street art project, organised in collaboration with Street Levels Gallery and Fercam, a leading company in the logistics sector, through which the crates used for moving important works of art will be recovered and transformed in turn into works of art.
In addition, numerous works by the South African sculptor Marco Olivier, recently awarded in Dubai, will be on display outside and inside the pavilions of the Fortezza da Basso.
Born from a collaboration between Florence Biennale and the Court of Pistoia, the National Association of Magistrates, subsection of Pistoia and the Lawyers' Group at the Library of the Court of Pistoia, the art competition inspired by the theme 'Living for Justice: Passion, Commitment and Sacrifice' has, as its concept, having dedicated one's life to administering and/or serving the ideal of Justice, from the perspective of those who have become victims in various ways and accepted the risk of losing their lives. The competition involved the fourth and fifth-grade classes of the Petrocchi Institute in Pistoia (including the Quarrata section), figurative and graphic arts address, and the Sismondi-Pacinotti and Berlinghieri Institute in Pescia, figurative and graphic arts address. The five works most voted by the jury will be exhibited at the Fortezza da Basso in Florence, during the XIV Florence Biennale from 14 to 22 October 2023.
This edition of the Florence Biennale will also feature Scan.art, the revolutionary guide that allows visitors to the exhibitions to scan artworks with their smartphones to receive digital, contactless information about the work and the artist. Each scan of an artwork will count towards the audience prize (only one scan per artwork and per web app user will be counted!). The winners of the Visitor Award will be announced during the Florence Biennale 2023 Award Ceremony.
In the Cavaniglia Pavilion of the Fortezza da Basso, various artists and designers will find space alongside Calatrava's models.
Particularly eagerly awaited is the exhibition of the Gruppo 9999 formed by exponents of radical architecture born in Florence in the 1960s: of them, among other things, we remember the 'Space electronic' disco and the first projection of images on the Ponte Vecchio in 1968; the trailer, the short film and some clips of Elettra Fiumi's docufilm dedicated to the Florentine group of avant-garde architects will be presented in the Fortezza.
Also in the Cavaniglia Pavilion, there will be a space dedicated to the architect Dorota Szlachich, one of the most famous Polish designers and winner of international prizes, who in Florence will present some works, including a model, and will hold a conference relating her projects to the theme of the XIV Florence Biennale.
Other notable presences will be those of Raymundo Sesma, a multidisciplinary Mexican artist who will participate in the exhibition space with a model of the architectural project being realised for the Municipality of Peccioli, and the young multimedia artist and designer Davide Stitz (Ophir Studio), with a multisensory installation, realised in collaboration with the Saudi architect Rawan M. Alderjem, entitled "The Unbearable Lightness", which represents a hymn to the enchanting complexity of the natural world. The installation acts as a symbolic element, alienating the viewer from phenomenal reality and inviting them to investigate the dualism between nature and technology.
In the same pavilion, there will be spaces for other competing architects and designers from Italy and abroad.
Museology conference and other talks
As usual, during the days of the Florence Biennale, the Fortezza da Basso in Florence will host a conference. Curated by Domenico Piraina (Director of the Palazzo Reale in Milan) and Maurizio Vanni (museologist, University of Pisa and Superintendency of Lucca and Massa Carrara, as well as moderator), this time the meeting will focus on the theme “La museologia del presente. Musei inclusivi e sostenibili si diventa” and will be attended by some of the most qualified experts at national level, regarding the six panels into which the conference will be divided.
In the theatre area of the Spadolini Pavilion of the Fortezza da Basso, several performances will take place.
Among the scheduled talks, worth mentioning are the two speeches by the 'international jury member' Gregorio Luke, who this year will dedicate his reflections to two great artists of the 20th century: Pablo Picasso and Salvator Dalì, and the speech by the famous author Giulio Rapetti (aka Mogol), who will give a talk on music and poetry.
Other artistic collateral activities are also planned as part of the XIV Florence Biennale at the Hotel Savoy in Florence, the event's cultural partner. After the exhibition, the works of the winners of the 'Lorenzo il Magnifico' Award (for art) and the 'Leonardo da Vinci' Award (for design) of the XIV Florence Biennale will be exhibited in January 2024 in the exhibition hall of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno in Via Ricasoli 68 in Florence, which is part of the Accademia di Belle Arti complex.
All participating artists and designers compete for the awards; the winners will be selected during the Florence Biennale and awarded by the International Jury. The award ceremony will take place on 22 October 2023.
Florence Biennale Media Office