Sylvie Blocher’s work for the Biennale shows a young white man whose body has been partially blackened. Along with many other people the artist feels that in the wake of the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States in 2008, "America has once again become that fantasised, desirable place of old, far removed from the militaristic, autocratic image of a democracy on its last legs": a non-authoritarian territory that may yet contain the seeds of a utopia. In a soft voice Blocher’s character sings a song made up of fragments from Obama’s "A More Perfect Union" speech of 18 March 2008. This artist’s oeuvre pays special attention to clans and identity groups, exploring the organisational complexity and modes of recognition at work in, for example, an American football team or a carefully self-selected nucleus of millionaires. Loyalties shape behaviour and we are all actors within the groups we belong to: how do we react to and cope with the realities of the world? Who governs our behaviour? How do we fashion ourselves?
For its first edition, the Biennale chose to compile an inventory of art in France. Over five weeks, it drew 77,000 people from around Europe to Tony Garnier Hall.
Intensely focused on the production of exceptional work, this first Biennale showed 69 first-time exhibits by 69 artists.
Under the banner Together They Are Changing The World, around 50 artists presented major 20th-century artworks and pieces created for the event.
During this edition, the presence of painters, poets, writers and philosophers highlighted the interaction between this century's plastic-art and verbal transformations. There were 89,000 visitors.
The 3rd Biennale inaugurated the new Museum of Contemporary Art, built by Renzo Piano at the heart of the Cité Internationale complex. Sixty-four artists were invited to retrace history, from the first artistic experiments on television through to interactivity. The public discovered a generation of artists who used the latest technological innovations.
More than 130,000 visitors roamed the spaces of Lyon's Convention Centre and Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Biennale was exceptionally held in an even year, to honour the new millennium.
Because we are always exotic to someone, this Biennale was titled Sharing Exoticisms. Its purpose was to restore the freedom to interpret forms on the planetary scale.
The exhibition featured work by 140 artists and attracted 110,000 visitors.
It Happened Tomorrow opened the time trilogy. This edition saw the Biennale put down fresh roots in several venues - including its first show at La Sucrière, a former sugar warehouse near the confluence of Lyon's rivers, which was refurbished for the occasion. The 7th edition hosted 75 artists and became autumnal again. It drew 130,000 visitors.
Some 173,000 visitors explored the second volume of the time trilogy.
Sixty-three artists from 19 countries showed 290 works, including 21 Biennale premieres.
The Biennale was staged in five venues across the Lyon area: La Sucrière, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Le Rectangle and Saint-Jean Fort.
The final opus to address the question of time.
There was a game with a rule: the devisers invited 50 curators from around the world to choose a work that represented the decade in progress. The 9th Biennale attracted 146,000 visitors.
Some 111 artists were shown in four venues: La Sucrière, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Bullukian Foundation.
The Biennale of Lyon is a Les Biennales de Lyon event