12th Biennale de Lyon: in the meantime... suddenly, and then

Biennales, the rule of the game

Since its creation in 1991, I have proposed to the commissioners that I invite them to think about a keyword. This applies to three successive editions. Drawn from immediate actuality, frequent use and uncertain semantic amplitudes, this word calls for an artistic as well as societal interpretation. There were first Story in 1991, then Global in 1997, Temporality in 2003 and finally from 2009 to 2013: Transmission.

At word Transmission that I submit to Gunnar B. Kvaran, he answers me literally by Narrative. The term is no more a subject than a title. It is simply the starting point of a dialogue from which we build three platforms: first, a Exposure, for whatever the mode of association of the works, their place, their choice or their absence, it is a question of designing a exposure. Then, Veduta, laboratory for visual creation and experimentation in which artists in residence, the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Lyon, works of the exhibition and amateurs of all ages and social affiliation build a new visual relationship to the world. Finally, Resonance, a vast creative polyphony in which artists' collectives, young galleries, neo-institutions or simply adventurers of the form, draw a counterpoint to the exhibition in homage to the irrational, the plural and the only time worth it: the present because it is the only one without duration.


For Gunnar B. Kvaran, pose rtop next to transmission it is therefore to state evidence of what is pass (“Reality is what happens,” says the philosopher.) To the neo-modernism that fills our walls and patina them with a sweet nostalgia, Gunnar B. Kvaran opposes a new attention to the form. Because it is an unprecedented form of thought. And the form of this thought is probably what says the most. Stories can be good, but what makes them different at the end of the day is the relevance of their form, because it creates meaning by forming the narrative.

The Little Prince said, "Tell me a story," and the poet drew it.

by Thierry Raspail, Artistic Director of the Biennale de Lyon

The Lyon Biennale 2013

Novelists or screenwriters always hope to have an interesting story to tell. A good story is also what politicians and brands are looking for to influence voters' or consumers' behaviour. The stories of the world are no longer only innumerable, as Roland Barthes wrote; they are now omnipresent, installed in the very heart of daily life.

For the Biennale de Lyon 2013, I invited artists from around the world who work in the narrative field and experience, through their works, the modalities and mechanisms of the narrative. The exhibition thus puts at the forefront the inventiveness of contemporary artists to tell new stories in a different way, by breaking down mainstream narrative codes, ready-to-use storylines.

These artists give their works-narratives extremely varied forms, using a multiplicity of registers, materials and techniques. The exhibition thus mixes sculptures, paintings, still and animated images, arrangements of texts, sounds, and objects in space, performances, etc. It highlights the way – rather ways – young artists today, depending on how they work in Europe, in Asia, Latin America, Africa or North America, imagine the narrations of tomorrow: narrations that neglect the suspense and excitement of globalized fiction (Hollywood, television, or that of bestsellers of world literature) new narratives that defamiliarize the world, give it back the radical strangeness and complexity that the classical implementations always seek to smooth out, to stifle; artistic narratives that make us see and understand the world as new and more intelligible.

These young artists include the British Ed Atkins and Helen Marten, the Czech Vaclav Magid, the Americans Trisha Baga, Ian Cheng, Petra Cortright, Nate Lowman and Ryan Trecartin, the Chinese Zhang Ding and the Brazilian Thiago Martins de Melo, or the French Neïl Beloufa and Lili Reynaud-Dewar.

by Gunnar B. Kvaran, guest curator of the Biennale de Lyon 2013

Biennale de Lyon from 12 September 2013 to 05 January 2014