La galerie de la Biennale
Robert Milin works on the principle that the ordinary is invisible, that it holds the key to the poetic, but that it is lost the moment we attempt to study it. And so we must let things and people go about their business, approaching them empathetically, unaffectedly, as if we aren’t even there. This is why the camera in Milin’s work is frontal and the backdrop neutral: for paradoxically this is how the camera is best forgotten. In "French Rail Ticket Checkers" the subjects are having breakfast; in "Veni, Veni, Veni" livestock breeders in France’s Quercy region call to their animals in the local patois. Here the artist settles for the bare minimum, and this is how he reveals the intensity of relationships. For Veduta/Biennale de Lyon, Milin used a residency in Lyon and neighbouring Vénissieux to create a work titled "My Name Means September". Roaming the city, he noted expressions overheard and built them into lightboxes of which seven can be seen in Lyon 8, three in Vénissieux and two at La Sucrière, and one at the Veduta forum.
Robert MILIN
Portrait de groupe de contrôleurs SNCF, 2008
Photos: Blaise Adilon
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An authorial biennale rooted in a museum project

The Lyon Biennale stemmed from a project by Lyon's Museum of Contemporary Art, directed by Thierry Raspail since its inception in 1984. From 1984-1988, the Biennale was preceded by an annual event entitled "October of the Arts", which ended with the exhibition "Colour Alone": The Experience of Monochrome". This retraced the adventure of monochrome, from the beginnings of Impressionism and the historical avant-gardes to topical work by artists ranging from Malevitch to Anish Kapoor. Staged in various venues around the city, "Colour Alone" was highly successful, making its mark and illustrating Lyon's potential for hosting an international event, following the Paris Biennale's closure in 1985. The event gave rise to the inaugural Lyon Biennale in September 1991.
The desire to create an event capable of artistic self-renewal while building a stable, long-term project that bonded with its host territory led to an organisational model specific to the Lyon Biennale: an Artistic Director builds the event's identity over time, and for each edition chooses a curator/ curators with whom he collaborates closely to devise an artistic project.
The Lyon Biennale is therefore truly an authorial biennale and, as Jean-Hubert Martin noted, "a clever way of having themes addressed through the personalities of others". Each biennale provides the opportunity to explore a specific issue. Its nine editions thus far have formed three successive trilogies: the first devoted to History, the second to Globalisation, and the third to Temporality. They have been curated by an international array of art historians, critics and professional curators including: Harald Szeemann, Jean-Hubert Martin, Le Consortium (with Robert Nickas and Anne Pontégnie), Stéphanie Moisdon and Hans Ulrich Obrist, and now, in 2009, Hou Hanru.

 


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The Biennale of Lyon is a Les Biennales de Lyon event

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