La galerie de la Biennale
When shown the Bichat Warehouse, Pedro Cabrita Reis initially wanted to fill it up with building materials, mainly the prestressed concrete used for large-scale building projects. But then, struck by the possibilities of a structure long left to its own devices and bearing the marks of a function lost forever – first an arsenal, then a garage until fire swept through it in the 1980s – the artist opted for a much more minimalist agenda. Approaching the site as a readymade, he has turned it into a light-space delineated by industrial neons that react to the weather and the shifts between night and day. What we see is the warehouse interior warts and all – beauty/ugliness, solids/voids – with strips of light floating in the air, others on the floor, still others hanging strangely out of kilter. Also created specifically for the Biennale is Cabrita Reis’s “Le Bureau”, housed in a building next to La Sucrière.
Les Dormeurs, 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.


Les partenaires de la biennale

The Biennale of Lyon is a Les Biennales de Lyon event

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