By Patricia Avena Navarro | November 01, 2019

The 15th Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art changes its course and its transfer is the most obvious sign. Leaving La Sucrière, where a dozen editions were held, the Biennial is installed in the old Fagor-Brandt factory: 29,000 m² of industrial wasteland. Unoccupied, the site still retains all the baggage of a thorny industrial past.


Echoing the geography of Lyon the 15th Biennial is titled Là où les eaux se mêlent, name taken from a poem by the North American writer Raymond Carver. A declaration of love for rivers and streams in which the movement of water is inseparable from the flow of wealth, merchandise, information and people that characterize the landscape of our time. Conceived as an ecosystem at the crossroads of biological, economic and cosmogonic landscapes, it brings together artworks that reflect fluctuating and sometimes precarious arrangements with our contemporary human and nonhuman, living and non-living. Specifically, they draw narratives with perspectives, geographies and plural temporalities, and delineate a "tangle of intertwined paths" that, in words of the anthropologist Tim Ingold constitute "the texture of the world."

The Biennial tries to respond to the universal scenario of deindustrialization with an artistic production in situ. The rails and pulleys cross the space, the cables twist like snake knots, the floors ooze and the roofs rust. The signage panels testify to the past of the place, and graffiti-covered walls illustrate its recent abandonment. From their first steps in these spaces abandoned by workers and machines, the 55 artists invited to explore the deserted halls, have understood their potential transported by the spirit of the place. Coming from Bangkok, Buenos Aires, New York, Johannesburg, City of Mexico, Moscow or Rome, but also from Paris or Lyon, the artists were invited to design works taking into account the history and architecture of the sites.

The Biennial also extends to other areas of Lyon and its region such as the IAC de Villeurbanne, dedicated to the young French and international creation ― artist Randolpho Lamonier (Brazil) assumes a subjective and documentary look on sexual life, protest , nocturnal and political of its native suburbs and the main Brazilian metropolises―; the convent of La Tourette, which invites every year a contemporary artist to take possession of the spaces built by Le Corbusier― presents Anselm Kiefer―; and the Bullukian Foundation.




Taking possession of both the ground and the basement of the site and its walls, the sedimentary landscape of the Biennale is built by overlapping and overloading of images, porosity and entanglements. A vast ecosystem that naturally imposes itself on the visitor as this industrial site progresses that in itself embodies the violence of economic changes. It proposes a landscape in transition to which artists, particularly sensitive to the social impacts of these transformations, are eager to respond. If artists adopt contemporary themes related to these social transformations, it is also the political experience of a mixture of temporalities and geographies that takes shape in the course in a transversal way. This is the case of the robotic machines of Fernando Palma Rodríguez (Mexico), inspired by pre-Hispanic mythology, and the centaurs devised by Nico Vascellari (Italy), who fight against the supremacy in the jungle of the automobile market. Felipe Arturo (Colombia) questions the production and consumption chain of the coffee industry; Chou Yu-Cheng (Taiwan) explores the monetization of the time and place of the human being in the service chain.