Since the Biennale was created in 1991, I have invited its guest curators to reflect on a word that is intensely topical, frequently used, holds artistic and social implications, and has vast configurations that are never precisely defined. This word, intended to yield the most diverse interpretations, applies to three Biennales.
From 1991 to1995, I chose “history”; from 1997 to 2001, “globalisation”; from 2003 to 2007, “temporality”; and from 2009 to 2013, “transmission”. With these words, history, anthropology and art engage with reality. But they are merely the basis of a dialogue between the curators and myself: in no way a “topic” or a “theme”, they are just the thread running through three editions, and a mode of exploration.
In 2009, I asked Hou Hanru to curate the first edition flowing from “transmission”, which took the title The Spectacle of the Everyday. In 2011, I invited Victoria Noorthoorn for the second edition, entitled A Terrible Beauty Is Born. In 2013, Gunnar B. Kvaran curated this third interpretation: Meanwhile… suddenly, and then. Taking as his starting-point the idea that “the world is a story”, Kvaran chose to reflect literally on the question of transmission by examining the various forms of visual story, particularly stories whose narrative structure is at once creative, significant and original.
In 2015, a trilogy kicked off around the word “modern”. Ralph Rugoff, curator of that year’s edition, entitled the first part of this trilogy La vie moderne.
Artistic director, Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art