This 16th edition of the Biennale will be on view from September 2021 until January 2022, and provide the occasion to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
Isabelle Bertolotti, director of the Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale since 2019, explains her selection: “For several years now, I have been interested in the profound engagement that Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath create with local audiences in cities across the globe, and the central role given to artists in their curatorial projects. I am excited to see how they will apply the multiple projects stemming from their previous collaborative experiences to the Biennale and across the region. Their practices as independent curators, unattached to any institution, afford them high autonomy from which the Lyon Biennale will be able to benefit.”
Founded in 1991, the Lyon Biennale is one of the leading contemporary art biennales on the international scene, and the foremost large-scale art event in France. The 2019 edition attracted almost 280,000 visitors, more than half of whom were aged under 26. Featuring several innovative outreach initiatives, it fosters dialogue and interaction.
Commenting on their appointment, Bardaouil and Fellrath said: “We are thrilled by the invitation to curate one of the most globally recognised contemporary art biennales, and look forward to expanding its experimental and protean nature in the 16th edition. This is a great opportunity to bring the diverse artistic and cultural positions we have encountered over the years of our global independent practice into conversation with the French art scene. On the occasion of the Biennale’s 30th anniversary, we envision a meaningful manifestation that is ambitious, imaginative and boldly indicative of our time.”
The Lyon Biennale is jointly funded by Lyon Métropole, the French Ministry of Culture, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Regional Council and the City of Lyon, as well as by many private and institutional sponsors.
Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath are the founders of Art Reoriented, a multidisciplinary curatorial platform, launched in New York and Munich in 2009. They chair the Montblanc Cultural Foundation in Hamburg, and are affiliate curators at Gropius Bau in Berlin. They are internationally recognised independent curators and award-winning authors known for their rigorous inter-temporal, trans-cultural, and cross-disciplinary approach. Their curatorial practice is inspired both by global contemporary artistic practices and by their knowledge of the modern period. They have taught at various universities, including the London School of Economics and New York University.
Bardaouil and Fellrath have collaborated over the past 10 years with very diverse institutions worldwide. Their exhibitions include: Walking through Walls, Ways of Seeing, Surrealism in Egypt, Mona Hatoum: Turbulence, Dansaekhwa and Korean Abstraction, Staging Film, Tea with Nefertiti, and Told Untold Retold. These have been shown in institutions such as Centre Pompidou in Paris, Villa Empain in Brussels, Kunstsammlung K20 in Dusseldorf, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, IVAM in Valencia, Reina Sofia in Madrid, Tate Liverpool, Gwangju and Busan Museums of Art in South Korea, Beirut Exhibition Centre, and ARTER in Istanbul. In 2016 they were part of the curatorial team of the 20th Biennale of Sydney. At the Venice Biennale, they curated the Lebanese Pavilion in 2013 and the Pavilion of the United Arab Emirates in 2019.