This year’s Lyon Biennale questions the meaning of modernity in our ever-shifting world. It forms the second installment of what will become a themed trilogy. A programme of exhibitions, workshops and discussions on theory and practice runs from 20 September to 7 January, led by Emma Lavigne (director of the Centre Pompidou-Metz) and Thierry Raspail (Artistic Director of the Biennale).
Like her 13 predecessors in the role (the event has run almost every year since 1991), Lavigne has been tasked with building the programme around a single word: this time, “modern.” She will do so through an extended mediation on fluidity, mobility and the pace of change in an increasingly globalised society. A further starting point comes from the poet Baudelaire: when considering the concept, he wrote of “the transient, the fleeting, the contingent.” This definition opens the topic up to an investigation of chance happenings and the passing of time. Reconstruction and randomness play a role. The White Cube, for example, is restructured into something resembling a constellation. The lines between art and space will be blurred, questioning notions of infinity and contemporary existence, whilst attempting to imbue the issue with an evocatively fractured physical form.
Even the surrounding landscape has a role to play. Situated centrally in France, Lyon is home to two large rivers, the Rhône and the Saône. As a facilitator of transport and trade, the presence of water was a significant factor in the city’s development and continues to hold historical resonance today. Figuratively, this flowing presence has clear links with the Biennale’s theme of shifting reality, giving tangible form to Lavigne’s exploration of transience through a strand called Floating Worlds. Natural topographical features form an organic, intrinsic presence which combines with artworks to stimulate imaginative responses to key questions: what is European modernity, and where is it going?
Find out more: www.labiennaledelyon.com
1. Diana Thater, White is the Color. (2002). Courtesy of Gert Jan van Rooj.