There are now 103 biennials around the world, mapping news that is growing exponentially, apparently renewable at will, and interchangeable. Flux is prevailing over singularity. One hundred and three biennials, 103 lists of artists, 103 titles… a biennial opens roughly every three days, and they cover one another. Their mechanics inhabit and generate a perpetual present, stretching to infinity. How, then, can a biennial still have critical authority? In 2003 and 2005, we opened a debate on this new form of temporality – firstly on the programmed future, and then on duration.
And now the debate continues: starting with the conviction that there must surely be a history to news and an archaeology to the news of news (the undifferentiated present), I invited Stéphanie Moisdon and Hans Ulrich Obrist to reflect upon this challenge and conceive the 2007 Lyon Biennial. Their ambition is clear: to open the century and name the decade, but with humour. The 2007 Biennial will thus be a game, played as it should be with the utmost seriousness; it will explore issues to do with players, of course, but also with polyphony and, especially, the essential place occupied by the artist.
Artistic director, Lyon Biennial
The 21st century hasn’t yet begun, the century has to begin!
The next Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art will open on 17 September 2007. The project devised for this 9th edition by Stéphanie Moisdon and Hans Ulrich Obrist is a history book written by a number of people. The history of a decade yet to be named; of a present that is endlessly arriving.
The project is structured like a grand game, with rules for selecting and casting the roles; a game in which some 50 “players” from around the world are invited to invite an essential artist of this decade. The ultimate purpose of this game, in which invitation is the rule, is to produce together an original landscape, to rethink the format and grammar of contemporary art biennials, and to create living matter from the archaeology of now.
This history book, published on the occasion of the biennial, is both the project’s origin and its horizon. It is conceived as a space open to different voices and trajectories. It will comprise essays by philosophers, critics and historians, and the manifesto texts of each player, centred on a particular vision of the present and of what is happening on the contemporary creative scene. The dynamic system which develops through the formation of this community, enables us to reach beyond generational, geographical and thematic axes and to shift the hierarchies and conventions of knowledge into a feedback loop.