Mondo Reale is an exhibition presented by The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, as part of the 23rd International Exhibition Unknown Unknowns. An introduction to Mysteries. 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 and seventeen international contemporary artists, many of whose works have been especially commissioned for Mondo Reale.

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).

Formafantasma is invited by the Fondation Cartier to design the settings of Mondo Reale. Departing from the show’s evocative title, Formafantasma’s exhibition design aims to respond to an apparently simple question: what is 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, allow 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.

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).