Juan Perez Agirregoikoa
Dave Hullfish Bailey
Jean Pascal Flavien
Omer Ali Kazma
Dot Dot Dot Magazine
Armando Andrade Tudela
Jumana Emil Abboud
Willem de Rooij
Hans Ulrich Obrist
Dorothea von Hantelmann
00s - the history of a decade that has not yet been named. This Biennial is a part of an ongoing attempt - more than ten years now - to home in on the vital questions regarding creativity in its most up-to-date forms. The objective of this IX edition is a history book written by several hands. The history of a decade not yet named. This biennial's method uses the structure of an enormous game, with rules for choosing and allotting roles. Curators: Stephanie Moisdon and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic Director Thierry Raspail.
00s - the history of a decade that has not yet been named. IX edition
Conception: Stéphanie Moisdon &
Hans Ulrich Obrist
Artistic Direction : Thierry Raspail
The next Lyon Biennial will open on 17 September 2007 as part of an ongoing attempt – more than ten years now – to home in on the vital questions regarding creativity in its most up-to-date forms. The objective of this Biennial is a history book written by several hands. The history of a decade not yet named.
Our era has done with the movements and the ideological, national, stylistic and generational rallyings that structured the preceding decades. The profusion of artistic currents, the extraordinary diversity they represent in terms of styles, media and ambitions, and the coexistence on the same stage of artists from so many different backgrounds and speaking so many different languages: all this makes any attempt to sum up the current scene more complex. At the same time the biennial phenomenon has continued to grow and shift, generating a debate about formats, procedures and local and international implications: a debate that goes hand in hand with a dislocation of reality and its representation and forces us to rethink our relationship with the forms taken by art and exhibitions, to experiment with new methods and to produce new alliances.
How to write a history of this period, of the clash of opposites? How to reinvent a way of speaking, creating, laying oneself bare and thinking one’s way through the non-linear space in which art emerges? This biennial’s method uses the structure of an enormous game, with rules for choosing and allotting roles. And the game is binding: it can only be played once. It takes the form of an investigation involving 60 players: curators from all over the world, bringing their personal experience to bear on producing the living materials of an archaeology of the present.
The players form two circles. The first is a community of critics and curators who are asked a single question: “In your opinion which artist or which work has a vital place in this decade?” This question functions as a rule. The second circle is a group of artists, each entrusted with the creation of an entire sequence which, according to the individual method, defines the decade. The montage of these different sequences results in a vision like that of the chapters of a history book.
The structure of this progress does not lie in delegating choice; rather it allows for a shift in the criteria of appearance, authorship, collaboration and the hierarchy of knowledge, for a reconsideration of the notion of the list that has become one of the forces shaping the relationship to art in the mechanism of biennials and reflects that universal passion for thinking in categories. The accumulation of all these propositions – divergent and coincident – gradually gives rise to a single landscape, the portrait of an immediate present and its passengers.
THE COLLECTIVE APPROACH
In structural terms the game is as much a space for reflection on the notion of the collective at the turning of this new century as a way of producing arborescences – a proliferation of potential histories. Each part of the exhibition retains the imprint of the initial, arbitrary rule; and thus relieved of the burden of thematisation, of the habitual conventions of allotting roles and territories, the exhibition becomes the factual image of all the combinations, choices, constraints, fortuities and necessities that integrate the programme of the period, with all its lasting or ephemeral passions.
Nor is it a matter of creating another fame barometer, and even less of setting up a ranking according to the aesthetic, economic or symbolic value of the works. Thus the formulation of the question – and the use of the word “vital” – is intended to include the two strands that determine the players’ judgement, which simultaneously reflects historical objectivity and the subjectivity of each of them.
“To construct history is the atheist equivalent of a prayer,” says historian Paul Veyne, who conceives of the writing of history not as a scientific exercise but as a modelling of the explosive satellisation of knowledge, as the constructing of plots, as a method of investigation drawing on traces, facts, clues, accidents and anecdotes. Here this methodical approach serves as a road map, with the players’ different proposals forming a mass of plots, directions and unanticipated adventures. The resultant multiplicity of stories and characters produces an exploded time frame, a series of interruptions in which chance endlessly changes the destiny and countenance of an exhibition transformed into an enormous machination, the locus of a secret conversation. However, the randomness this implies is neither the throw-of-the-dice kind nor the “psychological” variety cultivated by the Surrealists, but one generated by a system when the system taps into and takes over the creators’ intentions. For in the historical novel of the art of today, the question of the creator keeps coming up, and embracing other modalities of representation and of distribution of subjectivities.
For writer Edouard Glissant, biennials are closer in shape to continents – solid, imposing masses – than to the archipelago model of receptiveness, sharing and exchange. In his view, “The idea or the concept of a non-linear temporality implies the coexistence of several time zones, and at the same time leaves scope for a great range of contacts between these zones.” Seen as a zone of reciprocal contacts, then, the biennial can oscillate between the museum and the city, and between the city, its periphery and the world. It grows like a dynamic force field, radiating out through the whole city and beyond, embracing all sorts of organised partnerships at local, national and international level – the House of Chaos just outside Lyon, the Bullukian Foundation, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Villeurbanne, Le Magasin in Grenoble, the Athens and Istanbul biennials, and so on – and even the territories of a Wikipedia-style Everyware community. Giving rise to self-run events, subsidiary exhibitions, and undreamed-of extensions, these joint ventures are also the opportunity to add new centres: let us not forget that the quest for an absolute centre that permeated and dominated a large part of the 20th century ultimately resulted in a polyphony of centres in the 21st – a phenomenon not unrelated to the emergence and the power of biennials around the world.
Glissant reminds us, too, that the homogenising forces of globalisation were countered in the 1990s by a proliferation of biennials – whose own homogenising impact led to the disappearance of difference. For despite their urge to breathe new life into the system, the curators of these biennials often did no more than reproduce obsolete models of visibility and geopolitical representation in a balancing act that reinforced the underpinnings of the global market.
This project is a mechanism as defined by Giorgio Agamben: “The mechanism is a network of diverse elements embracing virtually all things, whether discursive or not: discourse, institutions, edifices and aesthetic and philosophical propositions. A mechanism always has a concrete strategic function and is always part of a relationship between power and knowledge.” Within such mechanisms – on which our existences sometimes depend – the question thus becomes: what strategies must we adopt in the daily struggle that links us to them? At a time when we are all faced with the need to get back to the possibilities of appropriate usage, the practicality of play – that purposeless children’s play that allows for the renewal of the function of every object – becomes the instrument for new ways of doing things. The game space – with the exhibition space – is that of the proliferation of stories and usages, in which the rules ineluctably lead the participants to make choices. The game is never gratuitous, for it makes truly available that which was previously only accessible. To player and viewer alike it makes available the usage of the rules – the means of inventing a mythology of the present. “Each time,” says Agamben, “we have to wrench back from the mechanisms the possibility of usage they have taken
captive. The profanation of the unprofanable is the political task of the coming generation.”
born 1967, lives and works in Paris
After studies in semiology and cinema research, Stéphanie Moisdon began working at the Centre Pompidou in 1990. In 1994 she and Nicolas Trembley set up BDV (Bureau des Vidéos), a production, publication and distribution agency for artists’ videos.
She now enjoys a solid reputation as an art critic and the freelance curator of such acclaimed exhibitions as “Présumés Innocents” at CAPCBordeaux (2000), “Manifesta 4” in Frankfurt (2002), “Genesis Sculpture” in Reims (2004) and “L’Ecole de Stéphanie” for “La Force de l’Art” in Paris (2006).
She also teaches at the Ecole Cantonale d’Art in Lausanne and is art editor at “Self Service” magazine. Since 2005 she and Eric Troncy have been editing the magazine “Frog”. She is a regular contributor to "Purple” and“Beaux Arts”, and has published a number of monographs, including one on Dominique Gonzales-Foerster in 2002. A collection of her writing is soon to be published by Presses du Réel.
Hans Ulrich Obrist
born 1968, lives and works in London
In 1993 Hans Ulrich Obrist founded the Robert Walser Museum and was in charge of the “Migrateur” programme at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, where he was contemporary art curator until 2005. He is currently co-director of exhibitions and programmes and director of international projects at the Serpentine Gallery in London. Since 1991 he has organised or co-organised numerous exhibitions including “Do it” (more than 30 versions since 1994), “Cities on the Move” (with Hou Hanru, 1997), the first Berlin Biennial (1998), “Mutations” (Bordeaux, 2000) and “Utopia Station” for the 50th Venice Biennale. He was also curator for the Dakar Biennial in 2004 and for many monographic exhibitions devoted to such artists as Olafur Eliasson, Philippe Parreno, Jonas Mekas, Pierre Huyghe, Anri Sala and Doug Aitken. Since moving to London he has co-organised a number of exhibitions including “Uncertain States of America” (Serpentine Gallery, 2006) and “China Power Station: Part I” (Battersea Power Station, 2006). In tandem with his curatorial work, he publishes the writings of Gerhard Richter, Louise Bourgeois and Gilbert & George and is the publisher of a series of artist’s books by, among others, John Baldessari, Matthew Barney, Christian Boltanski and Douglas Gordon. A selection of his interviews appeared in 2003 as “Hans Ulrich Obrist Interview” (Charta, 2003) and 2006 saw the publication of “...dontstopdontstopdontstopdontstop”, a collection of his writings from 1990 to 2006.v
Thierry Raspail, Artistic Director
LET’S TALK BIENNIALS:
A few decades ago art historian George Kubler came up with the notion of the “Prime Object”: a form, picture or building whose factuality is acquired retrospectively, as the product of a long lineage.
Isn’t this one of the corniest commonplaces ever? Yes and no. Yes because, pace Francis Fukuyama, history still exists and its central role in the shaping of memory is in no way called into question. No because factuality for the historian is that which escapes oblivion. Factuality is what lasts: it’s the work that stays on the wall, or the benchmark image. From this point of view it’s an authority figure. But it’s also a way of asserting that the present only ever exists via the supposed future we endow it with. The work only exists after the event; otherwise it evaporates, disappears. This is why the historian only ever works in the future perfect tense. Not in the present moment. But this is not the case of the curator, whose job it is to get the current situation organised.
Distinguishing the present from the topical is the critical issue in the here and now. With the end of the traditional historicity rationales and the appearance of François Hartog’s “perpetual present” the distinction has become blurred and this is why the biennial system, the actualisation of the topical, has become such a success in thirty years. The here and now amounts to some 110 biennials, each of which draws up a map of an exponential, interchangeable, endlessly renewable topicality. Consequently flow prevails over singularity. 110 biennials, 110 lists of artists, 110 titles — a biennial every week, each overriding and cancelling out the one before. The biennial mechanism lives in and generates an infinitely extensible future.
Seen in this light, how can a biennial still be a critical institution or a flash of discernment in the languor of the flow?
Can we claim that art is now imitating the vacuity and rhythmicity of political and sporting events which, as we know, often describe themselves as “historic”, but which, as we know even better, only become events retrospectively?
Is the system now playing along with a kind of googleisation, with the place at the top of the screen tied to the number of clicks and, as a result, quality no more than an expression of quantity?
In brief, are we victims of our own search engines, which play up the information atavism and naturally stress immediate communication at the expense of the slow business of sedimentation?
Nonetheless, isn’t the work of art the established, archaic drag on the flows, just as the literary and the author might be elsewhere? If the answer to this question is yes, we must conclude that the time frame of the biennials is not that of the works and that there is even a deep antagonism between the two. This is what is at stake in the 2007 Biennial.
LET’S TALK HISTORY:
In his story “The Library of Babel”, Borges offers a fine description of public euphoria when at last all the books are brought together. Then he shows the same public utterly at a loss, faced with an accumulation such that individual books have become unfindable.
Since its creation in 1991, the Lyon Biennial has always sought to be, first and foremost, an exposition: that is to say, to declare its allegiance to history. Since 2003 it has been treading the terrain of temporality, an all-purpose word as general as it is malleable – ductile – and was initially intended less to give an account of the current situation than to try to pin down its components. The results were “It Happened Tomorrow” in 2003, then “Experiencing Duration” in 2005.
In 1993 the second Lyon Biennial tried to name the century, borrowing its title “And Together They Changed the World” from Julian Beck. We were on the threshold of history, seven years before the 00s. And now, seven years after the 00s, the Biennial is out to name the decade. This is the same project – once again on the threshold of history – but with time’s arrow moving in the opposite direction. To claim that one is associating history with the present and the topical, when we have seen that the obvious gap between the two is very much an historical issue, is simultaneously
inevitable and a source of confusion.
The problem of topicality for biennials has a factuality about it which, as for the work of art, gives it a retrospective truth. As for the historical side, with Marc Bloch, Pierre Francastel and François Hartog we must associate, retrospectively Paul Ricoeur et Paul Veyne.
My intention was to round off the 2003/2007 trilogy with the question of temporality, by examining the historicist micro-processes which, to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, lead us through ongoing decline from Wisdom to Knowledge, then knowledge to Information, and ultimately from information to News.
What exactly is the news – today’s replacement for news items – that will make the present, which is to say, history? What “time frame/narrative” is to be constructed? How, so to speak, are we to visualise a form of archaeology of the topical?
Somewhere there has to be a history for the topical, and an archaeology for the topicality of the topical (the undifferentiated present).
This is why we must construct now a historical biennial, one looking retrospectively to the future with the intention of bridging the gap between the three conflicting binomes: the present and the topical, the birth of the work and the biennial system, and history and temporality. Because Stéphanie Moisdon and Hans Ulrich Obrist entered the series of filiations – what Kubler calls the “systematic age” – in the 1990s, the former to “artify” them sequentially, as Alain Roger puts it, and the latter to give them shape as global flow, both seem to me to represent the dual critical authority capable of meeting this challenge.
This is what triggered our dialogue. They riposted with globality to globalisation, plot to history, futurism to the present, the gamble to the mechanics of selection and polyphony to topicality.
There are two kinds of players in this Biennial, artists and curators whose separate roles are founded on two sets of temporal rules which, while different, have the same abundantly clear purpose: to assert the central position of the artist. And there are two gaming tables to match the procedures of different exhibitions.
The scenario has been prepared by Stéphanie Moisdon and Hans Ulrich Obrist from the basic ideas I outlined to them, bearing on history, memory, topicality and oblivion, and their “presentification”.
Have we succeeded in being of our time? The future will decide.
An art historian whose PhD thesis bore on "the museum question", Thierry Raspail began his career as a curator at the museum in Grenoble. After a number of assignments in West Africa he designed the museology for the
Musée National in Bamako, Mali.
He has been director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lyon since its founding in 1984, when he laid down a museological approach based on the principle of a collection of moments, made up of generic works. In most cases on a monumental scale, these works – by artists like Joseph Kosuth, John Baldessari, Robert Morris, Daniel Buren, Robert Filliou, Ilya Kabakov, George Brecht and others – are the equivalent of true monographic exhibitions and are now the underpinning of the museum.
In the spirit of Fluxus, then little represented in France, the museum also set about building a collection of sound installations by such artists as Terry Riley, La Monte Young and Laurie Anderson.
In 1991 Thierry Raspail created the Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art, of which he was artistic director. In this context he has worked with Harald Szeemann, Jean-Hubert Martin, The Consortium, Jérôme Sans and Nicolas Bourriaud. In 2007 his associates will be Stéphanie Moisdon and Hans Ulrich Obrist.
He has been the curator of a number of significant exhibitions, among them La Couleur Seule: l’expérience du monochrome (with Maurice Besset) and others devoted to Ed Ruscha, Dan Flavin, James Turrell, Robert Morris, Mathieu Briand, Kader Attia and Fabien Verschaere, as well as SingulierS, devoted to the French scene, at the Guangdong Museum of Art in China.
PLAYERS AND ARTISTS LIST
Peio Aguirre Guest artist: Juan Pérez Agirregoikoa
Yves Aupetitallot Guest artist: Una Szeemann
Pierre Bal-Blanc Guest artists: Annie Vigier & Franck Apertet
Daniel Birnbaum Guest artist: Tomas Saraceno
Thomas Boutoux Guest artist: Jia Zhang-ke
Giovanni Carmine Guest artist: Norma Jeane
Paul Chan Jay Sanders
Mathieu Copeland Guest artist: Mai-Thu Perret
Stuart Comer Guest artist: Hilary Lloyd
Jacob Fabricius Guest artist: Dave Hullfish Bailey
Hu Fang Guest artist: Cao Fei
Lauri Firstenberg Guest artist: Adrià Julià
Dan Fox Guest artist: Nathaniel Mellors
Massimiliano Gioni Guest artist: Urs Fischer
Jean Pascal Flavien
Julieta Gonzalez Guest artist: Simon Starling
Suman Gopinath Guest artist: Sheela Gowda
Francesca Grassi Guest artist: Ryan Gander
Hou Hanru Guest artist: Ömer Ali Kazma
Dorothea von Hantelmann Guest artist: James Coleman
Jens Hoffmann Guest artist: Tino Sehgal
Stefan Kalmar Guest: Dot Dot Dot Magazine
Marta Kuzma Guest artist: Thomas Bayrle
Pi Li Guest artist: Liu Wei
Francesco Manacorda Guest artist: Armando Andrade Tudela
Raimundas Malasauskas Guest artist: Darius Miksys
Francis McKee Guest artist: Jumana Emil Abboud
Tom Morton Guest artist: Charles Avery
Joanna Mytkowska Guest artist: Minerva Cuevas
Sean O’Toole Guest artist: James Webb
Vincent Pécoil Guest artist: Ohad Meromi
Adriano Pedrosa Guest artist: Marcellvs L.
Natasa Petresin Guest artists: Nomeda et Gediminas Urbonas
Susanne Pfeffer Guest artist: Annette Kelm
Anne Pontégnie Guest artist: Kelley Walker
Willem de Rooij
Scott Rothkopf Guest artist: Wade Guyton
Beatrix Ruf Guest artist: Keren Cytter
Trevor Smith Guest artist: Brian Jungen
Pooja Sood Guest artist: Shilpa Gupta
Rachael Thomas Guest artist: Gerard Byrne
Nicolas Trembley Guest artist: Christian Holstad
Eric Troncy Guest artist: David Hamilton
Philippe Vergne Guest artist: Ranjani Shettar
Gilbert Vicario Guest artist: Erick Beltrán
Andrea Viliani Guest artist: Seth Price
Jochen Volz Guest artist: Cinthia Marcelle
Hamza Walker Guest artists: Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla
Xenia Kalpaktsoglou, Poka-Yio, Augustine Zenakos Guest artist: Kostis Velonis
Tirdad Zolghadr Guest: Museum of American Art
To Fondation Bullukian: e-flux video rental
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Monday 17 – Tuesday 18 September 2007
Late night opening: Fridays 12:00–22:00
Special early opening during the Festival of Light
Thursday 6 – Sunday 9 December 10:00–19:00
Friday 7 December 10:00–22:00
Closed 25 December 2007 and 01 January 2008
Biennale de Lyon
3 rue du Président Edouard Herriot BP 1137
69203 Lyon Cedex 01 – France
La Sucrière, Villeurbanne Institute of Contemporary Art, Bullukian Fondation, Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art.
At La Sucrière: a work by d’Allora & Calzadilla performed live by 6 musicians
At the Institut d’Art Contemporain: performance by Ryan Gander
Lyon Opera 20:30, “The Show must go on”, choreography by Jérôme Bel.
Advance booking advised on 0826 305 325
Also 19th and 20th Sept - 20:30
Definitive programme early September: http://www.biennale-de-lyon.org/pros