La galerie de la Biennale

Streets, parks and signing are the basic materials of Leopold Kessler’s often Minimalist sculptures and performances. In "Service Active/Passive" (2007) the artist begins by earning a little money washing windscreens in New York, then "redistributing" the takings to the cleaning staff of a number of restaurants: a seemingly anodyne system which in fact raises some basic questions regarding the redistribution of wealth. In "Import" (2006) Kessler smuggles a packet of cigarettes from Budapest to Vienna by hiding it on the outside of the train linking the two cities. "Lucky Day" (2009) plays out a pseudo-confidence trick near the Louvre, with people pretending to find a gold ring which they then offer to the artist. Only the parts of the film having to do with this strange offer are shown by the artist, even if the logical extension of the story requires that the unknown donors demand money in exchange for the ring. Creating an expectation, then following up with a let-down – this is the key to his "Phantom Terrace", situated on the Saône embankment just outside the entrance to La Sucrière: a bar, tables and chairs, but nobody to serve the potential customer, who can just go on waiting and waiting.

With the support of Fermob / With the support of Lombard-Freid Projects, New York; the IFA, Stuttgart.

Films, 2006-2009
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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