Starting Wednesday, the French city of Lyon will be awash with art for its 14th Biennial, which features 60 artists from 23 countries and includes works by Laurie Anderson and Otto Piene. The director of the Centre Pompidou-Metz Emma Lavigne curates the exhibition, entitled Mondes Flottants (Floating Worlds). It’s an otherworldly exhibition with art everywhere from a sugar factory to a convent in the rolling French countryside.
For starters, American architect Buckminster Fuller’s iconic geodesic Radome from 1957 has been reinstalled at the Place Antonin Poncet. Walk inside to find a musical installation by French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, who created a sky blue pool with floating ceramic bowls that bump into one another, creating their own improvised orchestra. Meanwhile, the Bullukian Foundation has a stunning survey of works by Taiwanese artist Lee Mingwei, including The Moving Garden, a participatory piece which invites gallery-goers to pluck roses from a vase and offer them to strangers.
The real gems are at La Sucrière, a former sugar factory turned art space on the banks of the Saône river. British artist Elisabeth S. Clark has poured out piles of purple and black glitter at the entrance, leaving sparkly, otherworldly trails. The magic continues with German artist Hans Haackein’s Wide White Flow, where white silk is propelled by fans. Things turn spooky in Doug Aitken’s Sonic Fountain, a milky-coloured lake in the middle of a former sugar silo, where nine mechanical taps drip in sequence to a horror film-like score.
The biennial’s theme of “Floating Worlds” taps into migration, with French artist Melik Ohanian’s four-channel film, Borderland – I Walked a Far Piece, following the lives of refugees on a New York rooftop. Another highlight is from Thai artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul (recent winner of the Palme d’Or at Canne) who shows a light box photo called The Vapor of Melancholy, a shot of his partner in bed with a mouthful of smoke and fireworks superimposed across his body.
If the Earth is a floating world in a galaxy, French artist Dominique Blais taps into our collective obsession with other planets in Phases of the moon (full moon cycle), where the daily moon cycle is outlined in a series of tinted glass balls. The exhibition continues outside of the city in Couvent de la Tourette, a convent designed by Le Corbusier, where Korean artist Lee Ufan is showing minimalist sculptures made of stone, metal and mirrors.
One can’t ignore the current political climate and Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander, who’s been collecting protest slogans on social media, prints them out onto fabric for a piece called Mot D’Ordre. Hundreds of free-to-use patches can either be taken home or pinned in on a cork board in the museum; some of the slogans say “feminist,” others say “trans” and “revolution.”
The Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art runs from 20th September 2017 to 7th January 2018.