It starts with an idea in Venice

In 2018, Fondazione Prada set up a multi-disciplinary project in the field of neuroscience aimed at exploring the human brain, understanding the complexities of its functions … Which started in November 2020 and will end next November. On the occasion of the Venice Art Biennial 2022, Fondazione Prada presents the exhibition “Human Brains: It Begins with an Idea” curated by Udo Kittelmann and Raryn Simon at Ca ‘Corner della Regina, Venice from April 23 to November 27, 2022.

The Prada Foundation was created in 1993 by Muchia Prada, the granddaughter of the founder of the famous fashion house, which she runs with her husband, Patrizio Bartelli. Dedicated to contemporary art, cinema and philosophy, it hosts numerous cultural events, sometimes in unusual places, such as warehouses or abandoned churches. In 2011, he restored an 18th-century palace at Ca ‘Corner della Regina, on the banks of the Grand Canal in Venice, where the “Human Brain: It Begins with an Idea” exhibition.

Project The human brain A

The “human brain” is the result of in-depth research in collaboration with a scientific council led by Giancarlo Comey, consisting of researchers, doctors, philosophers, psychologists, linguists, curators …, Udo Kittelmann, Letizia Leoc … on cerebral aging and neurodegenerative diseases The time brain is analyzed from an anatomo-functional perspective.

The title of the project was “Brain” in the plural form to highlight the complexities of the human brain but also the individuality of each individual. It has been tested using a variety of scientific methods: neurobiology, philosophy, psychology, neurochemistry, linguistics, artificial intelligence and robotics.

Muchia Prada says:

“I have been thinking about this project for years, and we are finally ready to be committed to this goal, thanks to the support of a group of philosophers, scientists and researchers who formed the Scientific Council of the” Human Brain. ” Always wanted to work with relevant cultural concepts. This particular project responsible for neuroscience is probably our most important so far: for a visual arts organization like Fondazione Prada, tackling science is a real challenge because it has to give voice and form to researchers’ ideas. This conversation, which has now begun to embody the “human brain” project, underscores the importance of collaboration to value and promote significant studies and practices for our present. “

This project has four steps:

  • In 2020, the online conference “Culture and Consciousness” was held from 9 to 13 November, a scientific approach consisting of five daily discussions on the study of consciousness in neuroscience.
  • “The Human Brain: Conversation” is the second part of the multivariate program. The “conversation” was online from September 2021 to last April. Scientists, academics in a variety of fields, a large community of students, researchers, recognized by neuroscientists or, more generally, for their studies on the brain, were able to discuss or communicate with each other on an open platform.
  • Exhibition from April 23 to November 27, 2022 “Everything starts with an idea”.
  • The Scientific Forum and the “Brain Conservation” exhibition project, scheduled in Milan in September and October 2022, will focus on the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases and their treatment.


Muchia Prada asked himself the following question:

“We have a growing interest in relevant issues that affect everyone’s life, even those that are difficult to understand. For a cultural organization whose identity is anchored in the field of visual arts, tackling science is an intellectual and political challenge: how to demonstrate ideas and knowledge? A

The exhibition “Human Brain: It Begins with an Idea” is organized by Udo Keitelman in collaboration with Terin Simon on three levels of the palace.

On the ground floor, video projections show visitors anatomy, physiology, brain imaging, development and functionality.

On the first and second floors, more than 110 historical objects, drawings, paintings, prints and books marking some stages of brain comprehension, shed light on forgotten chapters of the Mesopotamian era and the Italian Renaissance from ancient Egypt, as well as the imaging techniques of the last thirty years.

Thirty-two international fiction writers have written texts around the object, explained by audiobook narrator George Guidal in a short video directed by Terin Simon.

In the center of the second floor is installed a “conversation machine”: thirty-six neuroscientists, psychologists, neuro-linguists, and philosophers appear to be talking about neuroscience experiments, their philosophical and ethical dimensions, through thirty-two screens. With over 140 hours of maintenance quotes organized by Taryn Simon, this self-organizing system responds, builds, and sustainably integrates its own discipline and disorder.

The exhibition explores the evolutionary history of neuroscience, innovation and discovery, attempts to outline the outlines of consciousness but also the gaps in scientific research that prevent us from fully understanding the human brain.

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