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Isabelle Bertolotti’s editorial

An exceptional landscape

A high point in the international art calendar,
the Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale is gaining fresh impetus in 2019.

Isabelle Bertolotti © Tony Noël

Thanks to the exceptional Fagor Factory site being made available – a complex of more than 29,000 sqm in central Lyon – the 15th edition is unprecedented in scale. This huge disused facility, together with all the macLYON space and interventions throughout greater Lyon and in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, make up an outsized field of experimentation that is ripe for the artists’ taking and giving the event a new dimension. This augmented realm of possibility swayed the Palais de Tokyo and its curatorial team, who were invited to curate the international exhibition. To meet the challenge, Adélaïde Blanc, Daria de Beauvais, Yoann Gourmel, Matthieu Lelièvre, Vittoria Matarrese, Claire Moulène and Hugo Vitrani scoured the world, with the idea of favouring new projects. These curators were called upon for their ability to implement an energy, multiple resources, an open-minded look at current output, and a special sensitivity to the contemporary issues influencing our society.
As a result of their travels and their confrontation with the Fagor Factory, they have chosen to constitute a “landscape” in which visitors will move around, discover, observe, hear, interact, feel, and live an experience, with artists who are intervening in a spectrum ranging from microbiome to biosphere. Together, they have devised this Biennale as a physical, visual and even spiritual trail that visitors will engage with.
They have picked more than 50 artists from all generations and continents; more than half live in Europe, a third live in France, and naturally there is gender parity. They come from Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Brooklyn, Brisbane, Johannesburg, Kostërrc, Lyon, Mexico City, Moscow, Saint-Étienne, Oslo, Rome, Paris, Pittsburgh or Zürich or many other cities; and have been invited to conceive site-specific artworks that take account of the factory’s history and architecture but also its socio-economic context. One of this Biennale’s strengths is the involvement of the entire economic fabric of the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes region, from the Puys mountain chain to the foothills of the Alps. Thanks to the local ecosystem’s rich diversity (metallurgy, chemicals, textiles, construction, automobiles…); to its traditional know-how and cutting-edge technologies, and to the multi-faceted potential at the artists’ disposal, they have been able to compose an incredible contemporary panorama made up of sculpted digestive systems, an abandoned tunnelling machine, remodelled vehicles, augmented brambles, recycled papers and stretched fabrics, but also actual travelled-through clouds…

The curatorial team has devised this Biennale as a physical,
visual and spiritual trail that visitors will engage with.

This edition reflects the wish to support the making of new works with diverse forms of expression, using means of production involving short supply chains. The Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale aspires to embrace the broadest practices, favouring the porosity of fields of expression, audience diversity, and spaces where people can meet. It has been conceived without compromise but is naturally convivial, informed by a desire for dialogue and interaction, and constantly attuned to both local and international concerns.

A multi-site Biennale, active across the region: Veduta, Young International Artists, Associated Exhibitions and Résonance.

For its 2019 edition, the Biennale is unfolding across the region. The Biennale curators’ role has been revised and considerably expanded. The Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale aims to be open and accessible to all, reaching beyond the restrictive concept of an exhibition devised for one enclosed venue. This new model is based on four complementary platforms which span the region: Veduta, Young International Artists, Associated Exhibitions and Résonance. In Lyon and throughout the metro area, Veduta features artist interventions in collaboration with residents, thus reaching a very wide audience. This year, and for the first time in consultation with the Biennale curators, a dozen artists will intervene in districts of Lyon (seventh and eighth arrondissements) but also in Chassieu, Francheville, Givors, Meyzieu, Rillieux-la-Pape, Saint-Genis-Laval, Vaulx-en-Velin, Bourgoin-Jallieu and Grand Parc Miribel Jonage. Also for the first time, the Biennale curators have been invited to help select the participants for Young International Artists, the Biennale strand dedicated wholly to emerging figures; it is co-produced by the Lyon Biennale, the National Fine Arts School (ENSBA) of Lyon, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes (IAC) and the Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art (macLYON), and is being held at the IAC.
Still involving the Biennale’s curatorial team, a collection of shows comes under the Associated Exhibitions banner: Fondation Bullukian, Musée des Beaux-Arts, head office of CIC – Lyonnaise de Banque : Atrium, URDLA (Villeurbanne), Halle des bouchers (Vienne), Creux de l’enfer (Thiers), Villa du Parc (Annemasse) and Couvent de la Tourette (Éveux).
Lastly, the Résonance banner spans a substantial fabric of galleries, museums, cultural institutions and artist collectives, proposing exhibitions or events devised in tandem with the Biennale and reflecting the region’s vibrant art scene.

The Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale aims to be open and accessible to all,
reaching beyond the restrictive concept of an exhibition devised for one enclosed venue.

I am convinced that this tremendous common energy, this desire to open up across the region and beyond, and this multi-pronged approach will make the Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale an event rich in emotions and thoughts, shared by the greatest number from beginning to end.

Isabelle Bertolotti