The 2009 Lyon Biennial
The last three Lyon Biennials of Contemporary Art made up a kind of trilogy on the question of the present. A present awaited, feared, perhaps self-contained; the polymorphous present of the 2007 Biennial, with its 50 curators from all over the world. The issue was to explore the new temporality that marks the societies of our time: that seemingly infinite perpetual present, with no before and no after.
This was also the opportunity to look at the system of biennials, their critical function and their contribution to the history of art and of the world.
The 2009 Lyon Biennial inaugurates a second trilogy, focused on history. What is the situation regarding the transmission – the kinship, even – of the art forms and skills, the aesthetics and thinking now emanating from the most distant corners of the planet? These factors signal the end of Western artistic hegemony – yet without detriment to its criteria – as art reaches us from places that never knew the explosion of Western modernity. History and all the diversity and density of its recent manifestations: these are the stakes in the 2009 Biennial, under the curatorship of Catherine David.
Catherine David directed Documenta 10 in Kassel in 1994-97, and later the Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam in 2002-04.
After studying linguistics and the history of art, she became a curator at the Centre Pompidou, before moving to the Jeu de Paume (1990-94). Among her many exhibitions and monographs there were “Lothar Baumgarten”, “Passages de L’Image”, “Stan Douglas: Monodramas and Television Spots”, “Marcel Broodthaers”, “Helio Oiticica”, “Robert Gober”, “Jeff Wall” et Chantal Ackerman’s “D’Est”.
Since Documenta 10 she has she has been organising exhibitions, encounters and transcultural publishing ventures, with an emphasis on establishing distinctive contexts for interchange with the public in respect of ideas, creativity and artistic processes.
Since 1998 she has been in charge of the “Représentations Arabes Contemporaines” project, which takes the form of exhibitions, seminars and publications in various European cities. The project fosters contact between the Arab world and the art scene and hopefully effects changes of attitudes on both sides.
In 2005-06 Catherine David was guest researcher at the prestigious Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin, where she continued her work on the Arab world. During this time she also organised the monographic exhibition devoted to Bahman Jalali at the Fundació Tàpies in Barcelona (2007), and the interdisciplinary event “Di/Visions: Culture and Politics of the Middle East” at the World Culture Centre in Berlin.
In the spring of 2008 she received the Bard College Award for Curatorial Excellence.
She is currently chief curator at the Direction des Musées de France (French Museum Board).