Lyon Contemporary Art Biennial: 13th edition



Founded in 1981, the Lyon Biennial is preparing to open its 13th edition (10 September 2015 – 3 January 2016) based on yet another trilogy, this time focused on the word modern. By modern, its Artistic Director, Thierry Raspail, understands “new” and he added “it’s not about defining what is modern, but rather exposing the hitherto unseen experience of modernity which artists use to create history”. The guest curator for first leg of this 6 year project, the Director of London’s Hayward Gallery, offers us his thoughts under the title “La vie moderne” (Modern life) around roughly 60 artists who explore different questions that concern us today, while maintaining a connection with the period called “modern”.

In terms of international diversity, Ralph Rugoff has already achieved his goal with a selection of young artists from extremely diverse horizons: Michael ARMITAGE (born 1984 in Kenya), Sammy BALOJI (born 1978 in the Democratic Republic of Congo), Mohamed BOUROUISSA (born 1978 in Algeria), Alex DA CORTE (born 1981 in the USA), XIAO Guan (born 1983 in China), Anthea HAMILTON (born 1978 in London), Daniel NAUDÉ (born 1984 in South Africa), Ahmet OGUT (born 1981 in Turkey). These artists, all under 40, have already had international exposure. For example, one of them, Simon DENNY (born 1982), represented New Zealand at the 2015 Venice Biennial. Others are already present on the secondary market, like LIU Wei (born 1972) who already has an auction record of more than $560,000 (for his painting N5-1, Christie’s Hong Kong, 30 May 2015) and his compatriot HE Xiangyu (born 1986), who scored a record of $58,000 with Cola project (a set of two). The latter sculpture came from a major project that was widely appreciated in Beijing, Hong Kong and London (where He Xiangyu exhibited at the White Cube in 2014) with a project that involved boiling 127 tons of Coca-Cola, and then using the residue to make works in the style of Dynastie Song.

Some more-established artists have been invited including George CONDO, Jeremy DELLER, Tony OURSLER, David SHRIGLEY; but above all, a selection of French artists who have already made a strong impression including:

Céleste BOURSIER-MOUGENOT, a sculptor and musician who is representing France at this year’s 56th Venice Biennial. His vibrant and musical installations are veritable poetic experiences.

Kader ATTIA and Michel BLAZY, Among the candidates for the French Pavilion in Venice this year, their presence at the Lyon biennial partly compensates their absence from the former, and is particularly welcome since Kader Attia’s installation Flying Rats was highly appreciated at the 2005 Lyon Biennial (he was nominated for the Marcel Duchamp Prize that year) while Michel Blazy’s ephemeral performances are always sublime moments for the general public.

Fabien GIRAUD & Raphael SIBONI, have participated in numerous exhibitions in France and abroad, including the Lyon Biennial in 2007 and the Superdome at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, with two powerful and memorable installations.

Camille HENROT, received the Silver Lion for her contribution (Grosse fatigue) to the 55th Venice Biennial in 2013. Her work has been shown at major international museums including the Tate Modern (London), the New Museum (New  York), the Sculpture Center (New York), the Palais de Tokyo (Paris), the Centre Pompidou (Paris) and the Jeu de Paume (Paris).

There will also be works by Cyprien GAILLARD (winner of the 2010 Marcel Duchamp prize), Julien PRÉVIEUX (winner of the 2014 Marcel Duchamp prize) et Camille BLATRIX (winner of the Ricard prize in 2014).

The works of these artists will be shown on several different sites: the Docks and the Sucrière, a refurbished industrial warehouse, the Museum of Contemporary art and the recently inaugurated Confluences Museum. At the same time, more than 200 exhibitions, performances and concerts will be happening in tune with the Lyon Biennial, including an external show organised by the Palais de Tokyo at the Halle Girard.