The Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art: a completely successful 16th edition for its director, Isabelle Bertolotti

Launched on September 14 16e Publication of the Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art ended on December 31. About 274,000 visitors visited the various event spaces (excluding public spaces), which is a thousand more than in 2019.

It is a real pleasure for the director of the Biennale, Isabelle Bertolotti, who emphasizes the satisfaction of visitors in a difficult context for the organization.

Isabelle Bertolotti, how is this 16e Was the Biennale d’art contemporain de Lyon a great success?

As the organization started in the middle of the Covid-19 era, setting up this publication was complicated. We also lost funding from one of our public partners (Subsidy reduction from the region, Editor’s note) and we were struggling to find private financing from companies facing a difficult economic context. All this jeopardized the spirit of the Biennale de Lyon to present products together with distant artists.

But, it also allowed a form of mutual assistance, as we worked with all the museums of Lyon and a large part of the metropolis. Some don’t open their doors at all, like the Hospices Civils museum. They gave us a loan works, but above all, they provided work around the subject, everywhere A manifesto of fragility. We were sometimes able to release works that were left in reserve, such as restored paintings. We received a lot of help in kind from companies in the area with material and engineering loans.

Finally, by postponing the Biennale for a year due to health restrictions, we were able to present a story of more than 2,000 years of fragility. We got a year to work deeply on the history of Lyon, the connection with Beirut… I don’t think it would have been possible otherwise.

Isabella Bertolotti: “We’ve had great feedback. It’s rare to get unanimity on a project!”

Is the number of visitors, i.e. more than 274 thousand, a success?

Yes, but above all, I note the satisfaction of visitors, who testify to this with numerous written comments. We also benefitedrave press. Achieving unanimity on a project is rare! We stepped out of our usual comfort zone: we touched the German, Indian and Middle Eastern press thanks to the exhibition of artists we have not seen anywhere else.

It’s also comforting that there are under 26s who aren’t just school groups! Teenagers and students come to the Biennale. This is the result of the long-term work of diversifying the offer for babies in recent years.

The subject of fragility, as well as the proposed means, spoke to the public. We wanted to evoke an indomitable fragility: we are responsible for our things, we are aware of it, and the main thing is the resistance we bring to adversity. Together we can resist and build things. He is meIt is important that artists unite us behind these themes.

In Lyon, the Guimet museum is reviving for the Biennale of modern art

Increasing attendance figures

In 2019, the Biennale d’art contemporain de Lyon brought together 273,000 visitors, including those who went to the associated exhibition areas.

This year, for 2022, the organization changed the calculation method. “We didn’t count visitors to the Tête d’Or park or the garden of the Museum of Fine Arts, the official sites of the Biennale. We excluded them to make the participation as accurate as possible. So with 274,000 visitors, we’re really happy”Isabelle Bertolotti emphasizes.

“We offered a story that exists but is universal.”

What do you think will mark this 16th?e publication and what will we remember?

We proposed a story anchored in the area, telling a story that exists but is universal. They liked to talk about the Lyonnais. At the same time, stories can speak for everyone. Fragility is a feeling that a South American, an Australian, can hear… and it’s always, as the Lugdunum museum shows, in the Gallo-Roman period. Anyone out there can tell that story through art.

We also worked hard on the writing part. All texts dedicated to visitors are written in understandable, simple language, which indicates the essence of the works. It is important that this language is accessible to everyone in French and English. This also applies to the consideration of the visitor’s route: how to get to the exhibition area, how to move when hungry or cold… These are situations that we don’t think enough about and go further. go to the future.

Our work on scenography to make it more eco-friendly, reusable, and cheaper has paid off. The environment offered allowed artists to be treated with respect while sublimating their works. All this does success of this publication.

© Blaise Adilon – Exhibition of 25 sculptures from the museum’s collection
Moulages de Lyon highlighted by scaffolding
In Fagor factories. Installation by Olivier Goethals for the Biennale.

Finally, the Biennale itself embodied the resistance you speak of, transcending the challenges.

Exactly. And it’s not over, as financial concerns are now affecting the return of jobs. So we are trying to find ways to finish this publication even if it is difficult. The work done was highly appreciated by the people, this resistance made them happy, that’s the most important thing. We feel there is anticipation and a desire to return in future editions.

Are you already preparing for the next Biennale starting in September 2024?

Absolutely. Within three weeks, we should announce the office responsible for the 17e Publication of the Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art. And a little later, after the teams work on it, the topic will be announced.

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Preview of the Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art 2022

  • 274 225 Visits to the Biennale facilities (except the Part Dieu station, the Tête d’Or park, the garden of the Museum of Fine Arts, the LPA République park where 15 million people can discover the works installed in public spaces for free) .
  • 27,570 Participants in the Veduta system in 14 municipalities in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.
  • About 280 cases in “Resonance” The theme of the biennale was organized in 73 cities of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.
  • 42% the age of the population is below 26.
  • 63,000 people took advantage of their free access.
  • 10,800 art experts and journalists from all over the world visit Lyon.
  • 1047 works and archives from different periods were presented.
  • More than 200 works produced or presented for the first time.

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