Questioning the World as Image: The 55th Venice Biennale and "The Whole Earth"

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Photo of Earth by the crew of Apollo 8. December 22, 1968

The central theme for this year’s Venice Biennale exhibition, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, comes from an obscure patented design for an encyclopedic palace by the self-taught Italian-American artist Marino Auriti. Envisioned as a 136-story building that would take over sixteen blocks of Washington, D.C., Auriti’s palace was to house all the available knowledge in the world. Titling the show "Il Palazzo Enciclopedico" after Auriti’s unrealized model, Gioni and his team selected an eclectic group of artists, psychologists, mystics and more whose work resonates with Auriti’s desire to create a total image of the world. In many ways, the exhibition can be seen as a response to the exhaustive overabundance of information available on the internet. As Gioni pointedly asks in his essay, "…what is the point of creating an image of the world when the world itself has become increasingly like an image?"

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Publications from the Whole Earth Catalog at MoMA

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The Last Supplement to the Whole Earth Catalog, 1971

Access to Tools: Publications from the Whole Earth Catalog, 1968–1974
April 18–July 26, 2011

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