Presented on the first floor of the macLYON, the exhibition The many lives and deaths of Louise Brunet brings together several hundred works of art, objects and archival documents, covering diverse geographies over several millenia. From Cranach to 1960s industrial design, and ancient funerary stele to 18th century Japanese Samurai armor, the exhibition draws on the collections of local and foreign institutions such as the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lugdunum – Musée et Théâtres romains et Musées Gadagne – Histoire de Lyon - Marionnettes du Monde in Lyon and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden. It exhumes trans-historcial narratives of fragility and resistance and confronts them with a diversity of works by the biennale’s invited artists.
The exhibition proposes a reconsideration of History – with a capital “H”, as an accumulation of many smaller ones, where the often forgotten voices of the marginalized person, become central to challenging the writing of the meta-narrative.
Departing from the context of Lyon, the exhibition is designed
as a retelling of the obscure 19th century story of
Louise Brunet, a silk spinner from the Drôme, who after
joining the revolution of the “Canuts” (silk weavers) in 1834,
embarked on an arduous journey of self-reinvention, which
ended in the Lyon-owned silk factories of Mount Lebanon. In
a sequence of sections that are conceived as focused explorations
of various manifestations of fragility, Louise Brunet
is portrayed as an elusive figure, part real, part fictional, that
appears in different guises, in various places, at several moments
in history. In doing so, the exhibition proposes a reconsideration
of History – with a capital “H”, as an accumulation
of many smaller ones, where the often forgotten voices
of the marginalized person, become central to challenging
the writing of the meta-narrative.
By imparting Louise Brunet with the possibility of acquiring different bodies, genders, ages, and species that are imagined as existing within and outside of history, the exhibition highlights the body as a vessel for a staggering range of experiences and forms of being. Racialized, gendered, depleted, or colonized, the body, and its various representations, becomes a site of reflection, mourning and celebration. Through juxtaposing different conceptions of the body, combining a wide plethora of mediums, territories and time periods, the exhibition addresses a range of political, economic and ecological issues, where fragility is reconsidered as a source of generative resistance, and as the only shared truth that connects us all.
125 Artists, 3000 Years