Theme 2023 - FB

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by Giovanni Cordoni

Individual and Collective Identities
in Contemporary Art and Design

The theme of the XIV Florence Biennale focuses on the concepts of individual and collective identities, in their multiple philosophical, psychological, sociological and cultural meanings. On the one hand, in fact, the concept of identity can be associated with the characteristics that distinguish us from others as unique and unrepeatable individuals (think about our personal data and our genetic heritage). On the other hand, identity is linked to the need to belong to one or more groups (or communities) which helps to define the way we are perceived by ourselves and by others.

Individual and collective identities, on the other hand, can be considered as two continuously intertwined perspectives, which only together allow us to understand who we are or who we want to be. The theme of the XIV Florence Biennale therefore embraces an integrated perspective, considering the personal and social spheres as two sides of the same medal: a medal forged from a feeling that pushes us, in the search for our "I", to confront ourselves with others, through interaction, exchange, sharing and empathy. In this sense, we intend to emphasize the inner change that accompanies us, experience after experience, throughout the course of our life.

Turning our gaze towards oriental cultures, we can see how different philosophical disciplines distinguish the personality and the essence of the human being: the set of everything "that the West usually identifies with the individual “I”, would constitute, according to many exponents of oriental doctrines, only a state of being, its contingent and transitory manifestation"(1). At the same time, in some African societies, "the notion of person seems to have a composite character, fragmented into a multiplicity of elements, difficult to be traced back to a synthesis"(2). Similarly, in the novel "One, No One and One Hundred Thousand"(3) by the Italian Nobel Prize winner Luigi Pirandello, the protagonist at first unaware and prisoner of the opinions of others, embarks on an inner journey towards awareness, freeing himself from the masks imposed by society and the illusion of unity of the “I”, up to the totalizing fusion with Nature.

Based on these insights, the artists and designers participating in the XIV Florence Biennale are invited to propose their own interpretation of the concepts of individual and collective identity, with the aim of nurturing a dialogue based on mutual recognition, mutual understanding and cultural exchange: a dialogue oriented towards a future to be built around a common feeling, far from closed individualisms and exasperated contrasts that generate conflicts and humiliations: a future based on harmony, peace and the elevation of the human race, in which the free expression of the ego is accompanied by the awareness that others are part of us and that each of us is part of the whole.

Precisely in this perspective, the title "I Am You" was chosen, with the intention of underlining the importance of putting yourself in the shoes of others and evoking, albeit in the differences that distinguish us, that common feeling that unites people instead of dividing them.

Personal and collective identities, cultural, religious and territorial identities, gender identities, multiple identities, fluid identities: no perspective or possibility is excluded in the labyrinth of the identification processes and ultimately self-awareness on which we intend to shed light thanks to the numerous artistic contributions that will give life to the XIV Florence Biennale.


(1) G. Pasqualotto, "L'identità nelle altre culture", Arianna Editrice, 2006
(2) L. Sciolla, "Identità personale e collettiva" in "Enciclopedia delle scienze sociali", Treccani, 1994
(3) L. Pirandello, “Uno, nessuno e centomila”, Milano, Einaudi, 2014

Title and text by Giovanni Cordoni | Graphic Design by Edoardo Matteoni

© Florence Biennale 2022