Magazine article Artforum International

11th Biennale De Lyon

Magazine article Artforum International

11th Biennale De Lyon

Article excerpt

THE BIENNALE DE LYON is "historically a Biennale d'auteur," observes Victoria Noorthoorn in her curatorial statement for the exhibition's eleventh edition. Given the connotations of the word auteitr, it is striking that Noorthoorn's primary gesture is the acknowledgment of uncertainty. "I have chosen to do as artists do: to grope, in the midst of a darkness," she writes, by way of introduction to a set of nineteen fragmented and elliptical "convictions and questions," many premised on the productive separation of art from the real. ("Imagination is the primary medium of knowledge. ... Following Wilde, this exhibi-don does not chronicle; it distinguishes between art and journalism. ... It also distinguishes between art and communication.") In staking out this position, Noorthoorn has managed to establish a curatorial voice of integrity--which, by the way, belongs to the only solo female curator among this biennial's many "auteurs." The female voice has been all too frequently repressed in the history of the biennial. Twenty years ago, for its first edition. there were four women represented among some seventy artistic projects.

That said, Noorthoorn's is not the only voice to be heard in this biennial. In keeping with her privileging of imagination above the prosaic (i.e., mere "journalism"), the Buenos Aires-based curator aligns herself with a variety of poetic positions. Installed on white walls through - out the former warehouse La Sucriere are a dozen visual poems from 1953-86 by Augusto de Campos, a founder of the Brazilian concrete-poetry movement. The graphic presence of these "words-ideograms" spells out the literary lineage of the biennial, whose catalogue (which Noorthoorn edited in collaboration with writers Carlos Gamerro and Ruben Mira and playwright Alejandro Tantanian) features texts from Borges, Homer1 lomer, Swift, Gombrowiez, Beckett, Bowles, Kafka, et al. The exhibition's title, "Une Terrible Beaute est nee" (A Terrible Beauty Is Born), itself derives from W. B. Yeats's "Easter 1916," in which the phrase is used repeatedly to close the poem's stanzas. Written in the months following the Irish republican insurrection against British rule, the work manifests a posture of confusion as the speaker stumbles between affirmation and negation, arriving finally at paradox.

This halting, searching quality is dramatized curatorially through wavelike rhythms, awkward associations, and spatial rhymes. In addition to La Sucriere, the biennial's venues include the private Fondation BuIIukian, the Musee d'Art Contemporain de Lyon, and a temporarily empty textile plant, the Usine T.A.S.E. If there is an order proposed in which to visit the dissimilar sites (the works are installed so as to prompt viewers to follow a particular path through each building; why shouldn't it be the same among the four locations?), it is perhaps because poetry has to do with isotopy: the repetition of semiotic units of meaning, with fragmentation and redundancy serving to guide readers toward the articulation of the whole The exhibition is not a singular representation but rather a plural, recurring one. As a curatorial principle, this translates into the dismantling or, on the contrary, the concentration of bodies of works. For instance, while Campos's works are scattered, as are those of a number of the show's seventy-eight artists, Slovakian Stano Filko's color-coded cosmology of wooden constructions, drawings, balloons, and rockets, spanning some sixty years, is presented almost as a mini-retrospective. His work in turn may be articulated with Robert Filliou's monumental undulating cloth panel inscribed with a sort of cosmic "history of everything" (Recherche sur L'Origine, 1974). Installed on the same floor in La Sucriere, but a bit distanced from each other, the works of both Filko and Filliou are engaged in a critique of artistic funetionalism, immersing the spectator in their ways of making worlds. In most cases the artists' ages or countries of origin, or the works' formal or even thematic affinities, are not the most salient points of comparison highlighted by the installation. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.