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11th Lyon Biennial, Lyon

A terrible beauty is born: The Center for Historical Reenactments, collaboration project, 2011

A terrible beauty is born: The Center for Historical Reenactments

11th Lyon Biennial, 2011

Lyon Biennial

15 Sep - 31 Dec 2011

Curators: Victoria Noorthoorn, Thierry Raspail


For the creation of the 11th Biennale de Lyon, historically a Biennale d’auteur, I have chosen to do as artists do: to grope, in the midst of a darkness that may or may not grow lighter as I advance, from point to point and from work to work, oriented by my obsessions, intuitions, and fears, and by the leads and provocations that each of the participating artists have thrown along my (that is, our) way. I have worked and traveled so that this show does it all at once: to address the uncertainty of the present and the near future, to speak about the condition of the artist and the necessity of art, while leaving the door open to doubt, to contradiction, to perplexity, to change and to movement. This is an exhibition that stems from the following sets of convictions and questions:

1. Imagination is the primary medium of knowledge. We share each of Oscar Wilde’s famous epigrams: "The function of the artist is to invent, not to chronicle"; "The supreme pleasure in literature is to realise the non-existent", and "what I am pleading for is Lying in art". This is to say, art requires a distance from the real in order to exist as such – as artificial construction – in order to address eloquently the complexity of the real.

2. Imagination allows for the rational and the irrational to coexist productively. Art’s artifice may be achieved through the conjunction and even contradiction of very diverse methodologies, be they rational (i.e. a return to modern notions of science and the encyclopedic) or irrational (i.e. recurring to mysticism, phantasmagoria, hallucination, delirium, the game, chance, and abandonment).

3. Imagination allows the individual to take risks, to expand limits, and to explore with or without intellectual rigor the gestures and practices that will allow him or her to present alternatives to the present; this is to say, to construct alternative systems of utopia.

4. Imagination is the primary force for emancipation.

5. Freedom may take diverse forms in art: the interrogation of the present, the construction of an alternative world, the constructive destruction of established discourses and languages. Constructive destruction joins the imagination in making possible the absurd, delirium and humor as practical tools to emancipate language.

6. In his poem Easter, 1916, the poet W.B. Yeats reflects upon his own present: He analyzes the uprising claiming Irish emancipation from the British with utter perplexity. At first sight, the poem could be read as celebrating the martyrs who gave their life for the cause of independence. Yet upon further scrutiny, it becomes clear that the attitude of the speaker is one of doubt. As Carlos Gamerro states in his essay for the 2011 Biennale catalogue, the poem shifts uneasily between affirmation, question and negation. It is this attitude by which we are unable to judge the evidence of a present that informs this Biennale. We prefer to respond, to guess, to contradict ourselves with liberty.

7. A Terrible Beauty Is Born, the famous verse from this poem which gives the title to this Biennale, brings together two apparent opposites. We are interested in this structure of productive contradiction.

8. Why is it necessary to – once more – reflect upon the notion of the beautiful? Beauty, in fact, has been one of the most forceful and arbitrary parameters of Western thought. We ask ourselves: Is Beauty –as R.M. Rilke would have it – always the beginning of terror? Is there a beauty that is not terrible? Does the emergence ofbeauty smooth over the harshness of reality, or does it actually highlight or increase its horrors?

9. The 2011 edition responds to these notions and mechanisms, by staging the tensions, voids, and excesses used by the participating artists to respond to the present. In this mise en scène, the Biennale borrows notions from philosophy, theater, and literature. Notions of staging, of performing acts, of unveiling, of masking, of disguising, infiltrate the Biennale as a whole and artist Erick Beltrán’s proposal for the graphic image in particular. This is an exhibition that allows for fiction to expand and to comment on the contradictions of the present.

10. This Biennale intends to address a state of confusion in the arts today, where art is conceived primarily as a commodity in the economic market. Here, we are interested in constructing an exhibition conceived as a web of discourses whereby the works speak to each other as individuals, creating meaning and establishing positions in the world.

11. Following Wilde, this exhibition does not chronicle; it distinguishes between art and journalism.

12. It also distinguishes between art and communication. This Biennale resists the current modes of communication whereby an exhibition is explained through a press release written in exactly the same tone and vocabulary from whichever corner of the world. We resist the notion of the need to explain dense materials. If texts are to appear in the Biennale or the catalogue, they will be artworks in themselves, not external explanatory texts.

13. Since Antiquity, words have been, above all, images, and images, words. Writing has been image-making. They both embodied one meaning and one action. The creation of an image implies opening the door to a consecutive action to take place in the real. It is this performative action that we are interested in exploring.

14. Every image has an effect. This exhibition has been structured reflecting upon these effects. We share the convictions of W.J.T. Mitchell when we choose to ask what the images and works in this exhibition want and do, what it is that they move and how, rather than what they represent. We intend to signal the power of the image, one that may drastically alter an established order. In this regard, we believe in the practice of image-making – however fictional, rarefied, or disguised it might appear - as, above all, a practice whereby the creator of the image enacts an ideological stance.

15. We are interested in reflecting upon the power of the line as a crucial tool to demarcate a territory, to delineate a position in time, space, and ideology.

16. This is how we respond to the growing confusion between art and politics. For us, the artist is above all a political subject and art is politics. We are not interested in the representation of the political, nor do we intend to enact the political. Such desires would be redundant.

17. The 11th Biennale de Lyon is being conceived from Buenos Aires, in South America, for and with Lyon. The artists in the exhibition have been invited during research travels in Europe and Africa during the past year, and they have been selected as individuals and not as representatives of their countries of origin or regions.

18. In many cases, artists were invited to respond to each other. That is to say, they have been invited to solve specific problems or to enter into a dialogue with other participating artists. This exhibition thus results from a grand series of conversations, a modus operandi that results from a belief in the power of dialogue for the construction of any given project.

19. The 11th Biennale de Lyon has the ambition to be alive. If it could be considered an animal or a beast, it would choose to be so. If it can be at war with itself, in order to speak of the inexplicability of the present and to the force of art, it will attempt to do so.

11th Biennale de Lyon will include around 60 artists from around the globe, but primarily from Europe, Africa and Latin America, across the 150.000 square feet of its four venues: La Sucrière, the Fondation Bullukian, the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, and the T.A.S.E. factory.

Expositions personnelles I Solo shows (selection)
Ceysson & Bénétière 2019Wilde Gallery 2019CDAN Museum 2018
Göteborgs Konsthall 2018Art Front Gallery 2017Officine dell'Immagine 2017
Galerie De Multiples 2017Analix Forever Gallery 2017Jane Lombard Gallery 2017
Galerie Delacroix 2017Goodman Gallery 2017Lawrie Shabibi 2017
Analix Forever Gallery 2017Maisons des Arts du Grütli 2017ADN Platform 2016
Keitelman Gallery 2016Labanque 2016MMP+ 2016
MAMCO 2015MIAMIBUS 2015Analix Forever 2015
CCC Tours 2014ADN Galeria 2014ADN Platform 2014
Analix Forever 2014Yvon Lambert 2014Museum Kunst Palast 2013
Keitelman Gallery 2013Paradise Row 2013Institut Français de Casablanca 2013
Galerie Fatma Jellal 2013Analix Forever 2013Goodman Gallery 2012
Shoshana Wayne Gallery 2012 Lombard-Fried Projects 2012Galerie Conrads 2011
Fondazione Collegio San Carlo 2011Galerie Hussenot 2011AKBank Sanat 2011
Galerie Hussenot 2010Galerie Conrads 2009FRAC Alsace 2009
Galerie Delacroix IFM 2008Creux de l'enfer 2008Galerie Ferdinand van Dieten 2007
Musée national Pablo Picasso 2007Shoshana Wayne Gallery 2007La maison rouge 2007
Lombard Freid projects 2007Bank galerie 2006CAC d'Istres 2005
Espace des arts Colomiers 2004 CAC Le Parvis 2004Migros museum 2003
Biennales & Triennales I Biennials, Triennials (selection)
13eme Biennale de Dakar 20187th Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale 20181er Biennale de Rabat 2018
57th Venice Biennale 20177eme Biennale d'Architecture de Shenzhen 201711eme Biennale de Bamako 2017
15eme Biennale d'art contemporain Alios! 2017Biennale Poznan 2016Setouchi Triennale 2016
10èmes Rencontres de Bamako 20155th Thessaloniki Biennale 201516th Media art Biennale Wro 2015
1st Trio Biennale, Rio de Janeiro 20152nd Bodrum Biennial 2015Fotofest Biennial 2014
5th Auckland Triennial 201310th Dakar Biennial 2012 White House Biennial 2013
Manif d'Art 6 20123rd Thessaloniki Biennial 201111th Lyon Biennial 2011
54th Venice Biennial 2011XIIth Cairo Biennial 20101st Mediterranean Biennial of Haifa 2010
Port Izmir 2, international triennial of contemporary art 20108th Dakar Biennial 2010Biennale Cuvée 2010
Xth Lyon Biennial 2009Art Tel Aviv 20098èmes Rencontres de Bamako 2009
1st Brussels Biennial 2008Pontevedra Biennial 200824th Biennial Memorial of Nadezda Petrovic 2007
1st Luanda Triennial 2007 52th Venice Biennial 20078th Sharjah Biennial 2007
2nd Seville Biennial 2006 Gwangju biennial 2004 7th Dakar Biennial 2006
4th Dakar Biennial 20007th Biennal Art Media 1999
Expositions collectives I Group shows (selection)
Maison Populaire 2019Bedford Gallery 2019 Evliyagil Museum 2019
Jane Lombard 2019James Cohan 2019Mathaf 2018
MACAAL 2018Fondation Boghossian 2018Sammlung Philara 2018
Nasher Museum of Art 2018Ellen Noël Art Museum 2018Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea 2018
MOCAK 2018Bozar Center for fine arts 2018Philharmonie de Paris 2018
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery 2018Goodman Gallery 2018Institut Français de Saint Louis 2018
Pensacola Museum of Art 2018 Von der Heydt-Kunsthalle 2018Gifu Museum 2017
Huntsville Museum of Art 2017Bandjoun Station 2017Institut des Cultures d’Islam 2017
Bellevue Arts Museum 2017Mudac 2017Primo Marella Gallery 2017
Goodman Gallery 2017MACAAL 2017Museum De Wieger 2017
Conrads Gallery 2017Galerie Ceysson & Bénétière 2017Keitelman Gallery 2017
Musée du Pays de Hanau 2017Château de Servières 2017CEAA 2017
Fondazione Fotografia Modena 2017H&R Block Artspace 2017Bedford Gallery 2016
Beijing Today Art Museum 2016Hôtel des Arts 2016Museum of Old and New Art 2016
Labanque 2016Les Photaumnales 2016Al Maaden 2016
Kunsthalle Faust 2016Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg 2016Archives Nationales 2016
Bardo National Museum 2016Arles 2016Musée d'Art Moderne de Troyes 2016
Rotor 2016Goodman Gallery 2016Musée Bartholdi 2016
Institut d’Art Contemporain 2016Santander Art Gallery 2016Brandts & Viborg Kunsthal 2016
Fondazione VIDEOINSIGHT 2015A Tale of a Tub 2015Contemporary Istanbul 2015
ADMAF 2015Goodman Gallery 2015Keitelman Gallery 2015
Galeria Municipal do Porto 2015Fabra i Coats 2015AMOCA 2015
Monastère Royal de Brou 2015CAC La Traverse 2015FRAC Franche-Comté 2015
ZKM 2015The National Library 2015Station 2015
La FabriC - Fondation Salomon 2015Van Abbemuseum 2015The Brooklyn Museum 2015
MMP+ 2015Sharjah Museum 2015Kamel Lazaar Foundation 2015
Sextant & + 2015Gwangju Museum of Art 2014QAGOMA 2014
N.B.K. 2014CAyT Centro de Arte y Technologia 2014Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery 2014
Station 2014Institut du Monde Arabe 2014Art Gallery of Western Australia 2014
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art 2014Palais de Tokyo 2014L'art dans les chapelles 2013
MAD Museum 2013Marseille - Provence 2013V&A Museum 2013
30 ans des FRAC 2013MAC Marseille 2013MAXXI 2013
Museu de Arte Moderna de Salvador de Bahia 2012Institut du Monde Arabe 2012Edge of Arabia 2012
Apexart 2012B.P.S. 22 2012Dorsky Gallery 2012
International Center of Graphic Arts 2012Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art 2011Fondation Blachère 2011
Brooklyn Museum 2011Dublin Contemporary 2011Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts 2011
Museum on the Seam 2011Tri Postal Lille 2011Meeting Point 6 2011
The New School 2010Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil 2010Fondazione Fotografia Modena 2010
Aargauer Kunsthaus 2010KAdE 2010Kunst Museum Bochum 2010
Moscow museum of modern art 2010Art Gallery of Ontario 2010Fondation Gulbenkian 2009
Centro de Arte de Santa Monica 2009Beirut Art Center 2009Salina Art Center 2009
Kunstverein Medienturm Ilz 2008Te Papa museum 2008Studio Museum Harlem 2008
Haus der Kunst 2008Centre Pompidou 2008CAAM 2008
Centro de Arte de Santa Monica 2008Johannesburg Art Gallery 2007CAC Le Parvis 2006
CAPC musée d'art contemporain 2006Bank Galerie 2006Les Abattoirs 2006
Moderna museet 2006Mori art museum 2006Wereldmuseum 2005
Centre Pompidou 2005The Stenersen Museum 2005Saw gallery 2005
Konstmuseum 2005Hayward Gallery 2005Museum Kunst Palast 2004
Tri Postal Lille 20042nd international contemporary art meeting 2003Espacio C 2002
O.N.A. Foundation 1999CAC Castres 1999Musée des beaux-arts de Dôle 1999
Musée des arts décoratifs 1999  
interventions publiques I public space projects (selection)
metavilla 2015Collateral Project to the 12th Havana Biennial 2015Prison Qara Meknès 2015
Art Paris 2015Analix Forever 2014Sculpture Beach Art Dubai 2012
Le Printemps de Septembre 2012Narracje 4 2012Ivry 2010
FIAC Tuileries 2010 Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2004