The 59th Venice Art Biennale is an invitation to imagine. After the pandemic caused the event to be postponed for just the third time in its 127-year history (the other two instances being the two world wars), there was hope at the beginning of the year that this would be ‘the Biennale of rebirth’, marking a return to some kind of normal. Amid widespread global crisis, this could easily be dismissed as an optimistic goal. Yet in responding to the permanent state of emergency that has become the hallmark of our era, the 2022 Venice Biennale emphasises the power of human imagination as an essential resource. Moreover, it provides an opportune reminder of how art allows us to envisage ‘new modes of coexistence and infinite new possibilities of transformation’ by creating magical and surreal worlds that are thrilling, humorous, occasionally disquieting – and always insistent upon hope.