As part of the Veduta/Biennale de Lyon residence program, Bik Van Der Pol spent May to September 2009 at the Miribel Park, which is part of several municipalities: Lyon, Villeurbanne, Vaulx-en-Velin, Décines, Meyzieu and Jonage. After an introduction to the park’s lake and its beaches, they came up with a plan for a raft/diving board for bathers to enjoy during the summer, with the scene being filmed from the beach. The raft was immediately taken by storm this beach has no diving board and the camera completely forgotten by the participants. Result, no more and no less than scenes of everyday life of the kind the Lumière brothers recorded 150 years ago. The film was edited and shown, and the raft exhibited along with a banner reading, Beneath the pavement, the beach that famed May 68 slogan. So what do you see on the stage/raft? A moment of getting away from it all? A carefree community? A kitsch dream? A fleeting instant in the sun? People doing typically silly things? Or just a simple memory of holiday time?
With the support of Royal Netherlands Embassy, Paris; Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam.
Interview with Hou Hanru, currator of the Biennale de Lyon 2009:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Biennale of Lyon is a Les Biennales de Lyon event