exploring the complexity of human brains by fondazione prada at venice art biennale 2022

exploring the complexity of human brains by fondazione prada at venice art biennale 2022

‘Human brains: it begins with an Idea’, on view in Venice ART BIENNALE


Carried out by Fondazione Prada, ‘Human brains’ is an experimental project driven by a strong desire to have a deeper understanding of the complex organ that defines our personality. The title utilizes the plural form ‘brains’ to underscore its inherent complexity and enormous richness arising from diversity merged with individuality. 


‘It Begins with an Idea’ is the third phase of the project, which is on view at Ca’ Corner Della Regina from 23 April to 27 November 2022, on the occasion of the Venice art Biennale 2022. Occupying three levels of the Baroque-style palace, the exhibition sees an in-depth research directed with the support of a scientific board including scientists, neurologists, neurolinguistics, neurophysiologists, academics, and philosophers.exploring the complexity of human brains by fondazione prada at venice art biennale 2022

Images © Fondazione Prada

All other images by Marco Cappelletti



explaining scientific rigor with an easy-to-understand approach


Developed with the support of 13 international neuroscience institutions, the project seeks to explain the impact of the human brain in our lives. This central organ is closely connected with the human being. Taking into account its uniqueness proves the effect that scientific research has on our lives and on the wider progress of civilization. Thus, considering the significance of the organ, this project aims to enrich knowledge and contribute to a greater awareness of our brain structure that entails a greater awareness of ourselves.


More specifically, the project is comprised of four programs: The first part started in 2020, as a conference dubbed ‘Culture and Consciousness’, with a focus on the study of the highest brain function. The second phase, titled ‘Conversations’, was a video lecture series by international scientists, philosophers, and scholars. As aforementioned, the third one is named ‘It Begins with an Idea’ and is taking place in Venice Bienalle. The last chapter with the title ‘preserving the brain’, is a scientific forum and exhibition project that will occur in Milan from September and October 2022. 


‘Human Brains aims to shed light on science, on its extreme complexity, on how the evolution of knowledge requires a continuous verification process and how each new acquisition is the premise for the next in a never-ending development. Knowing how our brain works helps us understand ourselves and others. It allows us to participate in a more incisive way in social life, to respect and appreciate the diversity between people and thought. This project also
intends to recognize the immense contribution of the neuroscientific community with special attention given to young researchers who, with their creativity, provide a fundamental contribution to the advances of neurosciences,’ mentioned Giancarlo Comi, President of the scientific board of Human Brains.


exploring the complexity of human brains by fondazione prada at venice art biennale 2022



Spreading over three levels of the building 


Throughout the exhibition, curated by Udo Kittelmann in collaboration with Taryn Simon, visitors will face a variety of objects, while audiovisual material will explain theories and studies. In an attempt to convey scientific knowledge, the show investigates the familiar, the unfamiliar, historical misunderstandings, and ongoing mysteries of neuroscience. To enhance the sensory experience, scientists’ and academics’ voices resonate in rooms of Ca’ Corner Della Regina, narrating stories of reflection and medicine.


On the ground level, the audience will meet a series of projections regarding anatomy, physiology, and imaging of the brain, as well as illustrations of how it develops and functions. This section also introduces the public to the principles, structures, and mysteries of the organ that is the protagonist of the exhibition. On the upper levels, visitors will see more than 110 items encoding centuries of attempts to understand the human brain. The selection includes historical artifacts, drawings, paintings, prints, and books that mark some of the most significant moments of a millennia-long journey of discovery. At the same time, this floor highlights forgotten chapters of history, such as the Mesopotamian and ancient Egyptian ages, the Italian Renaissance, the Japanese Edo period, as well as imaging techniques developed in the last thirty years. exploring the complexity of human brains by fondazione prada at venice art biennale 2022



video footage, interviews, and literary texts enrich the show 


The exhibited items are accompanied by literary texts written by thirty-two international fiction authors. Regarding the exhibits, they reveal their latent social, political, and personal stories. Together objects and reports indicate and reproduce the ability of the brain to collect and process information. Meanwhile, at the center of the second floor, thirty-six neuroscientists, psychologists, neurolinguists, and philosophers from five continents are broadcast on a set of thirty-two screens, investigating their philosophical and ethical dimensions. 


Overall, ‘It Begins with an Idea’ is the most experimental phase of the entire project. Inquiring into the irrefrangible alliance of mind and brain seeks to foster an open dialogue that traces the outlines of consciousness, the gaps in scientific research, and the certainties and unknowns in our process to understand the human brain.

exploring the complexity of human brains by fondazione prada at venice art biennale 2022
exploring the complexity of human brains by fondazione prada at venice art biennale 2022


exploring the complexity of human brains by fondazione prada at venice art biennale 2022



project info:


name: Human brains: It begins with an idea

developed by: Fondazione Prada

in collaboration with: a scientific board chaired by Giancarlo Comi, neurologist, and composed of Jubin Abutalebi,
Cognitive neurologist; Massimo Cacciari, philosopher; Viviana Kasam, scientific journalist;
Udo Kittelmann, curator; Letizia Leocani, neurologist and neurophysiologist; Andrea Moro,
Neurolinguist; and Daniela Perani, cognitive neurologist

dates: from 23 April to 27 November 2022

location: Ca’ Corner Della Regina, Venice 

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