Petra Cortright

12th Biennale de Lyon

Meanwhile…Suddenly and Then, Lyon, France (September 12, 2013 – January 5, 2014)

Format A4.indd

The Biennale de Lyon 2013

Novelists and screenwriters always hope they have an interesting story. These days, politicians too and advertisers are all on the look-out for a good story that can be used to influence voters and consumers. Not only are there “countless forms of narrative in the world”, as Roland Barthes would have it, but now they are everywhere and an integral part of our daily life.

For the Biennale de Lyon 2013, I have invited artists from all over the world who work in the narrative field and use art to experiment with the modalities and mechanisms of storytelling. The exhibition gives pride of place to the ingenuity and inventiveness of contemporary artists in undoing mainstream narrative codes and off-the-peg plotting devices in order to tell new stories differently.

The art of these artist-storytellers comes in many and varied forms and uses a wealth of different registers, materials and techniques. So the exhibition naturally includes sculptures, paintings, fixed images, animated images, arrangements of text, arrangements of sounds and of objects in space, as well as performances. It highlights the way (or rather ‘ways’) in which young artists of today – according to whether they work in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa or North America – are imagining the narratives of tomorrow: narratives that do without the suspense and excitement of globalized fiction as practiced in Hollywood, on television, or in the best-sellers of world literature. Theirs are totally new narratives that defamiliarize us with the world and restore the deep-rooted strangeness and complexity that classic storytelling devices have always sought to iron out or to stifle. These are art narratives that enable us to see and understand the world in a new light and more intelligibly.

The young artists invited include Ed Atkins and Helen Marten from Britain, Czech artist Vaclav Magid, Americans Trisha Baga, Ian Cheng, Petra Cortright, Nate Lowman and Ryan Trecartin; Zhang Ding from China and Thiago Martins de Melo from Brasil, as well as French artists Neïl Beloufa and Lili Reynaud-Dewar.

– Gunnar B. Kvaran, Guest curator of the Biennale de Lyon 2013