The sixteenth Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art has just opened and this edition will utilise many of the city’s most iconic locations and buildings, from the Roman archaeological sites to the industrial wastelands, and from the religious museum to the natural history museum.
All the arts from all eras will be on display, under the theme of the fragility of the world, and the aim is to bring together powerful new works with works from the past, while also taking a glimpse into the future.
Director and co-curators
""We are lucky in Lyon to have a visibility of history through its architecture, through its museums. So we really had a big collaboration, from Antiquity to the present day,, which allowed us to make this link between contemporary art as we imagine it nowadays but also ancient art and to see all the links that can be woven between these two temporalities and its artists in any case."
The former Fagor factories, now a industrial wasteland, is the largest of the Biennial's exhibition spaces. All artistic forms are present here, from painting to multimedia, including sculpture and photography. An exhibition entitled A Manifesto of Fragility, has been put together by two world-renowned curators, Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath.
"A lot of the artists here are from Lebanon or from any part of the world and this is one of the threads that guided us, Till and I, was to actually think about artists that thinking about fragility and the material they use and the histories they tackle and the issues that they raise and the questions that they ask."
"They are artists from now across the world, they talked about certain things but we feel it's equally important to have, in a sense, this vertical access of time to make a point that really things do come back, you know, perhaps we are not as different now we were 2000 years ago, technology might change but fundamentally we are perhaps still the same people and in a sense of very important lesson of understanding we are one humanity in many ways."
Exhibtions and artists
One of the most striking installations is certainly that of the Belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck, in a huge hanger, it's a post-apocalyptic city or camp entitled We Were the Last to Stay.
Hans described his exhibition to us.
"By taking away color, and you, as a spectator, are the only colorful element walking through it, so as we look at each other in this grey settings, we stand out very strangely because we are totally colorful, and so you make us a sort of distinction between real life as it is, in full color, and a sort of "after image" or a sort of abstraction from reality. As, for example, Black and White photography does, it's also abstract from Time and Space."
Another exhibition venue, is the former Guimet Museum of Natural History in Lyon, with a monumental exhibition by the French artist, Ugo Schiavi, entitled Grafted Memory System.
"This museum of natural history is transformed into a data center, but a data center that is already abandoned, so it is a future that is already abandoned, where the cables are carried like roots, the plants have finally replaced all the data that passes through all these cables and all these datas." Ugo says.
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Lyon is hosting a major exhibition called Beirut and the Golden Sixties.
Works of past and present, with many Lebanese contemporary artists, including two filmmakers, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, who made a very powerful multimedia installation based around the explosion in Berirut on August 4, 2020, entitled, Where is My Mind
Joana, described the thought process behind their exhibition to us.
"Our studio in Beirut was destroyed with many of our works, and this made us think a lot about both the fragility of art and the fragility of institutions, which must protect art. And as it was really in the theme, we worked around that, a bit like a symbol of the violence of the explosion."
manifesto of fragility, is open to the public in Lyon until December 31.