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Established in 2009, The Museum of Everything is the self-appointed (because it is not true) ‘world’s first and only wandering museum for the undiscovered, unintentional, untrained and unclassifiable artists of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries’. It has welcomed over 500,000 visitors to its ambitious installations across the globe and it could be said, without being too daring that Massimiliano Gionni’s curatorship at the Biennale is an adaptation of the model of the Museum of Everything. In fact, the museum of everything has a pavilion at the biennale called  Il Palazzo di Everything. 

It all started with Exhibition #1 – The Museum of Everything’s inaugural show in Primrose Hill – where the very first room contained sculptures by Nek Chand. This collaboration with Hayward Gallery is a recollection and celebration of that special time, in association with the artist himself and the Nek Chand Foundation. Having said this, the institutional support that this kind of effort brings about is a matter of concern and has to do with the conflation of two phenomena. On one side, the emergence of curating as an autonomous discipline. On the other, the emergence of an illiterate public for a theme park-ish art world that is constantly demanding new ‘stuff’. 

The museum of everything and, if you want, also Massimiliano Gionni’s Palace of Everything at the Biennale are based on the wrong theoretical foundations. Outsider art is usually expressive and therapeutic. That is art that becomes, in the best case scenario, totemic (at a social level and the discipline that studies it is anthropology) and mystic (at an individual level). When Gionni creates a ‘museum’ to exhibit and categorise it according to the postulates of XVIII century Illuminism and/or curates it, according to the precepts of the wunder kammer, those ‘magical’ aspects of the piece that used to be a vehicle of presence for its creator, simply dissappear. The Museum of Everything is a contradiction in terms that is deeply flawed and what worries is how all the critics (even the old ones) and the institutions (la Biennale and Hayward Gallery) are jumping around in utter stupidty. Just a thought.

Written by Rodrigo Canete. All Rights Reserved. 

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