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Wet Your Lips and Make Love to the Camera: Filthy Dreams’ 59th Venice Biennale Arte Fashion Report

What would an art spectacle be without famed gender-twin, living artwork, Downtown/art world fashion fixtures, EVA & ADELE? Here in front of a Jacqueline Humphries painting, out-dazzling it and everything else in the room! (all photos by Bradley Wester for Filthy Dreams)

On location of the 59th Venice Biennale Arte Preview for Filthy Dreams! In the next weeks, I’ll post an in-depth review of the main exhibition, The Milk of Dreams, curated by Cecilia Alemani with anecdotes about accompanying national pavilions. First impression: EXTRAORDINARY! GROUNDBREAKING!

But first, a FASHION REPORT:

It’s impossible to see/experience this year’s Biennale (delayed one year due to COVID) without filtering it through the lens of war. Of course, the work was made and chosen before Russia invaded Ukraine. But rather than trivializing the exhibition, the war has increased its relevance. This may be The Milk of Dreams and Cecilia Alemani’s greatest achievement. And best of all, it left me with hope in the human, global, creative enterprise.

That said, is calling attention to what people were wearing at the invitation-only preview week trivial? Is it somehow disrespectful to the Ukrainian catastrophe? Or our post-COVID (Is it really?) world?

A unanimous NO!

Indeed, I had this conversation with many participants and appreciators in the fashion spectacle—the display is a reemergence, a coming-out, a confirmation of the post-Zoom, dressed-from-the-waist-down, live, social contract. If a fashionista falls in a forest and there is no one around to see them…?

So for those who couldn’t make it or haven’t yet, enjoy a selection of inspiration-fueled snapshots I took while wandering around Venice, Italy. Note: I did not take info from each subject. But I did mention to look for their image here on Filthy Dreams. So if you see yourself, please comment or send us your info for retroactive attribution!

Curator Karen Conway

Artist Marianna Simnett, who is featured in The Milk of Dreams


Karl Ohiri, British-Nigerian artist based in London

These ladies are in traditional Nordic Sami cultural dress.

Salvia (on the left) and friends

Laetitia Ky, feminist Ivory Coast artist at Ivory Coast pavilion opening

Jay Barry Matthews, a queer activist performer in artist, filmmaker, and “certified sexological body worker and somatic sex coach” Melanie Bonajo’s opening event at the Netherlands pavilion

Akosua Adoma Owusu, a Ghanaian-American filmmaker who is featured in The Milk of Dreams

His friend hand knit this piece for him

Poet Nat Raha

I’ll leave you with a few photos of costumes actually in “The Milk of Dreams” exhibition made by Weimar-era German Expressionist avant-garde artist-dancer couple Lavinia Schulz and Walter Holdt who “created a series of fantastical costumes that transformed dancers into a type of hybrid artwork.” Are our Biennale spectators/performers following in that tradition?


Bradley Wester is a visual artist and writer. His work has been exhibited extensively in New York as well as other parts U.S. and Europe. He has just completed the first draft of his first creative non-fiction book titled, “Growing Up Under Water.” His “Brothers Katrina” won the 2016 Fresher Writing Prize for Nonfiction. More of his writing about art can be found on his website,

7 thoughts on “Wet Your Lips and Make Love to the Camera: Filthy Dreams’ 59th Venice Biennale Arte Fashion Report

  1. It was great walking with your eye on the scene! Thanks for a glimpse of wonderful dreamland. Look forward to more.

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