From July 15 to December 11, 2022 with the exhibition design by Formafantasma, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain presents the artworks of Jean-Michel Alberola, Alex Cerveny, Alev Ebüzziya Siesbye, Jaider Esbell, Fabrice Hyber, Yann Kebbi, Guillermo Kuitca, Hu Liu, David Lynch, Ron Mueck, Virgil Ortiz, Artavazd Pelechian, Sho Shibuya, Patti Smith, Sarah Sze, Andrei Ujica and Jessica Wynne.

Mondo Reale is the exhibition presented from July 15 to December 11, 2022 in Triennale Milano by The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, as part of the 23rd International Exhibition Unknown Unknowns. An introduction to Mysteries.

The seventeen international contemporary artists involved are Jean-Michel Alberola, Alex Cerveny, Alev Ebüzziya Siesbye, Jaider Esbell, Fabrice Hyber, Yann Kebbi, Guillermo Kuitca, Hu Liu, David Lynch, Ron Mueck, Virgil Ortiz, Artavazd Pelechian, Sho Shibuya, Patti Smith, Sarah Sze, Andrei Ujica and Jessica Wynne. Many of whose works have been specially commissioned for Mondo Reale.

Invited by Stefano Boeri, President of Triennale Milano, to join the Advisory Board of the 23rd International Exhibition, Hervé Chandès, Directeur général artistique of the Fondation Cartier conceived the show in collaboration with Italian designers Formafantasma.

Departing from the show’s evocative title, Formafantasma’s exhibition design aims to respond to an apparently simple question: what is the reality in the context of a fabricated exhibition? The design reuses the walls that were built for the previous exhibition instead of working with additional plastered walls (a synonym for ephemerality), and partitions remaining spaces through a large use of paper. The materials used, mostly borrowed or recycled, allowing for repair and reuse and include wood, bricks, metal scaffoldings, and woollen carpets. Formafantasma developed this exhibition as an exercise in balancing the needs of contemporary art to exist in the spatial abstraction of museums’ ‘white cube’ while considering the ecological implications of designing a temporary space.

While the exhibition Unknown Unknowns moves away from Earth to explore the mysteries of the universe, Mondo Reale is imagined as a landing on our planet, a step into the unknown of the everyday world.

The exhibition brings together works expressing a feeling of the unknown. The unknown as perceived in the world we live in by looking at the sky, as explored by mathematicians and poets or experienced through encounters with different cultures, faith, or natural disasters. The unknown as an unexpected reality that leaves us amazed, incredulous, amused, disoriented, dismayed, questioning, worried or full of curiosity and eager to push back the boundaries of knowledge.

Allowed to freely wander among the artworks, the visitors are invited to embrace the mysteries of the unknown and let their imagination, curiosity, and emotions run wild. Gathering films, paintings, photographs, ceramics, installations and sculptures, Mondo Reale welcomes seventeen international artists as well as mathematicians, physicists, and philosophers. The exhibition includes new commissions to artists Alex Cerveny, Yann Kebbi, Jessica Wynne, Sho Shibuya, Virgil Ortiz, two special projects by David Lynch and Sho Shibuya and artworks from the collection of the Fondation Cartier commissioned for past exhibitions such as Unknown Quantity (Paris, 2002) organised with philosopher Paul Virilio or Mathematics, a Beautiful Elsewhere (Paris, 2011).


The journey in the real world begins with an unexpected encounter. A two-headed creature, the ceramic sculpture Ring Master & Tics (2022) by Virgil Ortiz welcomes the visitors. The artist keeps the ceramic tradition of the Pueblo Cochiti alive, telling the stories of the Native Americans and their revolt, mixing them with his personal experience, science fiction and apocalyptic themes. From this point on, the journey proceeds in a constant oscillation between reality and imagination.

Ron Mueck, Man in a Boat, 2002 Mixed media 159x138x426 cm
Private collection. Photo credits: Thomas Salva / Lumento

The show continues with Man in a Boat (2002) by Ron Mueck: a man journeys on an ancestral voyage of discovery and self-discovery, naked on the prow of a wooden boat staring out into space, enigmatically. A sound installation reveals the voice of Patti Smith reading the text by mathematician Misha Gromov The Four Mysteries of the World: the singer adds that there is a fifth mystery, that of poetry. From the start to the end of the exhibition, we witness a timeline of sunrises and events seized by Sho Shibuya, in a morning ritual leading to an artistic reaction to the news of our world, as captured in the New York Times’ headlines. His paintings of Brooklyn’s sky and international events from the series Headlines: 2020–2022 will accompany us right to the end of the show, constantly evolving under our eyes.

Continuing along the path, artist Alex Cerveny, presents a personal glossary in which natural events and biblical figures are visually linked to names of people and places in the world: a very personal way of constructing visual maps to reorder all human knowledge, from mythology to soap opera.

Andrei Ujica’s film Unknown Quantity (2002/2005) confronts the visitor with the new world born out of an accident, the Chernobyl disaster, in a conversation between Paul Virilio and Nobel Prize Svetlana Alexievich. Filmmaker Andrei Ujica also presents another film, 2Pasolini (2000/2021), as a homage to Pier Paolo Pasolini, whose 100th birth anniversary is celebrated this year. The film highlights Pasolini’s quest for spirituality.

Drawer Yann Kebbi proposes a parallel version of the exhibition through the filter of his creativity. In his drawing Mondo Reale imagines another appearance of the artworks of Mondo Reale and their articulation in the space, thus calling the thin line separating reality and imagination into question.

Artavazd Pelechian, La Nature, 2020 Film 63 min
Collection Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain
Acquisition: 2021 Photo credits: Luc Boegly

A true visual poem, the film Nature (2020) by Artavazd Pelechian is presented for the first time in Italy on this occasion. Produced by the Fondation Cartier, the film presents humanity’s relationship with the natural world through images edited to produce a monumental cinematic experience that escapes the classical distinction between fiction and documentary. Here, nature shows us its most disorderly side, from catastrophic to spectacular events, in all its splendour.

Mysterious, alien ceramic bowls by artist Alev Ebüzziya Siesbye (Untitled, 1997-2019) express the secretive and silent yet powerful impact of an artwork. They attract the dark waves of the motifs reminiscent of the sea that spread across the surface of Sea wave (2022), a large-scale pencil drawing by artist Hu Liu. In this piece, the spirit of traditional Oriental painting is revived in a contemporary key. A double eclipse in a landscape of disorganised objects and geographies, presented by Guillermo Kuitca’s painting (Double Eclipse, 2013), forecasts the state of the world. A bear comes face-to-face with its surprisingly funny reflection in the water: a teddy bear, a TedHyber, is the subject of three paintings by Fabrice Hyber. His works highlight the many possible points of view on the world, yet another kind of duplicity (or multiplicity) of ironic interpretations of what is real and what is not. The pendulum, an ancient scientific instrument designed to track the Earth’s rotation, to measure time and space and, lastly, to explain the natural world, inspires the evocative installation titled Tracing Fallen Sky (2020) by artist Sarah Sze.

Jessica Wynne, Carlo Rovelli, 2022 Archival pigment print 127x197cm
Courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery, NYC. Photo credits: Jessica Wynne

Mathematics is again at the centre of reflection with a series of large-scale photographs by Jessica Wynne, who presents blackboards bearing writings by the greatest scientists of contemporary times: a vision of knowledge and its erasure. As a special commission by the Fondation Cartier, Wynne photographed the blackboard of physicist Carlo Rovelli.

Similarly, the video by Jean-Michel Alberola, La Main de Cédric Villani (la conjecture de Cercignani) captures the gestures of mathematician Cédric Villani as he illustrates Cercignani’s conjecture on his blackboard. Going on with the visit, we discover the works of Jaider Esbell, once an activist who had been part of the resistance movement of the indigenous people of the Roraima state in Brazil. Esbell paints the worldview and the myths of the Macuxi people in a multiverse rich in colours that encompass microcosms and macrocosms alike.

Jaider Esbell, Untitled, 2021. Acrylic on canvas, 122×244 cm.
Galeria Jaider Esbell de Arte Indígena Contemporânea Collection Courtesy Galeria Jaider Esbell de Arte Indígena Contemporânea © Jaider Esbell Estate. Photo Bruno Leão

David Lynch is present in the exhibition with three works. The special project Weather Report live in the exhibition space. The installation Universe Coming from Zero (2011), a kaleidoscopic animated catalogue of all the objects in the universe commissioned by Fondation Cartier for the Paris exhibition Mathematics, a Beautiful Elsewhere in 2011. The film What Did Jack Do? (2017) ends the exhibition sequence: a black-and-white film set in a train station, where a homicide squad detective played by Lynch himself corners a surprising suspect. In What Did Jack Do? the case remains unsolved: clearly, the mystery does not end with the end of the exhibition.


The show extends beyond the physical borders of the exhibition space with two special projects, Live from Mondo Reale, that will cadence the entire duration of the 23rd International Exhibition.
David Lynch’s, Weather Report will be broadcast daily in the exhibition. At 7PM on the dot, David Lynch will announce the weather forecast from his studio in Los Angeles. Empirical yet fictional, the weather report shapes the present and our interpretation of it.

Sho Shibuya, Greece. August 9, 2021 from Headlines 2020-2022 Acrylic on newspaper
56×31 cm. Courtesy of the artist. Photo credits: Henry Hargreaves

Sho Shibuya will share his daily artistic ritual in a last digital frame presented at the end of the exhibition. The Brooklyn sky as seen from his window painted on the daily edition of the New York Times and made into a digital image travels all the way to Triennale Milano. A journey through time, from West to East, which underscores the inexorable and everyday passage of time, as a painted timeline.


The Fondation Cartier is also contributing to the Public Program of the 23rd International Exhibition with a series of conversations between artists, authors and scientists, special screenings and live arts.
On September 28 filmmaker Andrei Ujica and Jesuit priest, journalist and writer Antonio Spadaro will hold a public conversation taking the film 2Pasolini as a starting point.

On September 29, philosopher and writer Peter Sloterdijk will enter into a conversation with Andrei Ujica to discuss Artavazd Pelechian’s Nature.

On November 11, a Soirée Nomade conceived with musician Alexis Paul and choreographer Alessandro Sciarroni invites traditional choirs from the Caucasus to the Mediterranean for an exceptional evening dedicated to the human voice as a unique and ancestral instrument.

On September 5 in Venice, on the occasion of the 79th Venice International Film Festival, Isola Edipo and Giornate degli Autori will pay tribute to Artavazd Pelechian’s lifetime achievement. Nature and a further selection of his films will be presented to the public in the presence of the filmmaker.

Additional events will be announced throughout the fall.


The Fondation Cartier participates in the two publications of the 23rd International Exhibition, curated by Emanuele Coccia and published by Electa. In the book (volume I), astrophysicist Michel Cassé contributes with a text titled “All clarity comes with mystery”, commissioned by the Fondation Cartier as a contribution to Unknown Unknowns’ theme. In the catalogue (volume II), the Fondation Cartier presents an exclusive selection of texts by artists, philosophers and scientists associated to the exhibition Mondo Reale – such as Sho Shibuya, Virgil Ortiz, Alex Cerveny, Misha Gromov, Formafantasma, Carlo Rovelli and a conversation between Nobel Prize Svetlana Alexievich and philosopher Paul Virilio, along with selected exhibition views.


Mondo Reale is the fourth exhibition presented by the Fondation Cartier at Triennale Milano, within the frame of the 8 years partnership that the institutions established in 2019. Mondo Reale follows Claudia Andujar. La Lotta Yanomami (2020-2021); Les Citoyens. Guillermo Kuitca on the collection of Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain (2021); and Raymond Depardon. La vita moderna (2021-2022).