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. It is through the tiniest details that he reveals the intensity of interpersonal relationships. For Veduta and the Biennale he 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 (60–72 Rue Arrachart, Etats-Unis neighbourhood), three in Vénissieux (Tower 2, Monmousseau-Herriot neighbourhood) and two at La Sucrière. He is also showing two films at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lyon.
Robert MILIN
Mon prénom signifie septembre, 2009
Photos: Blaise Adilon
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The 2009 edition > Artistic Project
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"The Spectacle of the Everyday"

10th edition of the Biennale de Lyon

 

 

Interview with Hou Hanru, currator of the Biennale de Lyon 2009:

The title "The Spectacle of the Everyday" has something highly contradictory about it. Could you put us in the picture here?

HH : I suggested the title to the Bienniale's artistic director Thierry Raspail right at the start. In today's world existing means being part of the spectacle - that's the situation we're in. Everything's spectacle: any image in a magazine, any exhibition, etc. And in that same world there's also what's called the "everyday": a living, shifting terrain on which people come up with all kinds of ways of resisting the implacable logic of consumption as embodied in the spectacle.
The idea for the Bienniale is to use the spectacle to spotlight this invisible world of the everyday and the ceaseless creation that goes on within it.

What's the Bienniale's project, with this overarching theme that seems to involve us all?

HH : The project this time round is to get people thinking about the why and the wherefore of art. Today everything's spectacular, everything's shackled to consumption, superficiality, the market, institutions. The Bienniale is an attempt to get back to the close ties between artistic creativity and people's lives.
It's not solely a matter of turning on the enjoyment with a biennial devoted to daily life. There's a philosophical side as well: the world really does fall into two parts, one highly visible, which is the spectacle and the other invisible, which is the everyday; and artists look for inspiration in their experience of that existence.
To sum up, the core notion of the project is that with the Bienniale now twenty years old, we've reached a point where we really have to rethink the relationship between artists, art and people; so that the linkage between society and the world of creativity can continue to function.

Could you explain how you actually go about setting up an exhibition on this scale, with 70 artists, four venues and such a complex theme?

HH : Because the theme is multifaceted, the Bienniale is based on a multidimensional model; there are five pillars that can be easily identified as you move through the exhibition. In the course of discovering The Spectacle of the Everyday, you'll come across The Magic of Things, made up of the work of artists who orient everyday objects and situations towards new horizons so as to raise social, historical and political questions. Celebrating the Drift looks at artists who make use of urban spaces and produce works that resist order and spatial constraints.
Living Together explores the dialogue between the city and its communities, while Another World is Possible gives the floor to artists taking a critical look at reality and imagining new, sometimes utopian social orders.
Close in spirit to the last-mentioned is the project called Veduta, which stands the usual art situation on its head. Instead of bringing the public to the works of art, it brings the works to the public, and does so in neighbourhoods undergoing urban regeneration. Veduta is the Biennial on your doorstep: with brand new contemporary art experiences we're trying to set up a dialogue so people can talk about art - or simply just look at it.

You seem extremely sensitive to commitment by artists: to a link between the human and art...

HH : All the exhibitions I've curated embody a direct link with the city, with the street, with the way people organise their lives on a daily basis. I see it as a real necessity that artists should begin to engage with people's lives again.
What we have to make sure of is that our agenda includes dialogue and discussion with audiences that have different kinds of access to this type of intellectual project. We can't make art if we're disconnected from society and the way it lives.

Following that logic, how do you see your role as curator?

HH : As I see it, I don't just create exhibitions. I'm looking for meaning, a meaning for life, and through my artistic projects I offer a way of thinking that fosters certain ideas.
Being a "curator" is not just inventing the best exhibition ever. An exhibition is not an end in itself, it's the beginning of a long process of coming up with ideas for the future, for society. It's not just a display of objects - a presentation - but a setting in which to start thinking about what we are and what we're doing here.

How do you choose the artists you show? The ones in this Biennial, for example?

HH : A title and a project like this one don't come out of nowhere. They're the combination of an investigation - a theoretical quest I've been on for a long time - and a large dose of practicality and acquaintance with artists. I work a lot with artists, I learn from them, I swap ideas with them. I chose some I know well, whom I see as essential, then I looked further afield. I broadened my horizons. After all, looking for artists is my job! I also invited artists I'd never met.

Read more

A word from Thierry Raspail

 


Les partenaires de la biennale

The Biennale of Lyon is a Les Biennales de Lyon event

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