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Spotlight on Asian Artists at Lyon Biennale 2017


Spotlight on Asian Artists at Lyon Biennale 2017
"When Sky was Sea" (2002) by Shimabuku

For the 14th edition of the Lyon Biennale, artistic director Thierry Raspail has invited Emma Lavigne, director of the Centre Pompidou-Metz to curate the second of three volumes of the Biennale centering on the the keyword “modern”. In the context of unbridled globalization fostering constant mobility and flows, Lavigne has selected the title Floating worlds, derived from the Japanese word ukiyô, describing an urban lifestyle in an impermanent world of constant renewal, granting creativity and freedom.

Lyon, France’s third largest city, provides the perfect backdrop for Floating worlds, itself a place whose identity rose from the waters at the convergence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers. The Biennale reactivates an imagination carried along by the two rivers, creating an “island topography” that allows for flows and shifts, dissolutions and detours.

Spread across three major venues and a host of satellite events exhibiting more than 60 international artists, here our highlights of Asian artists at the Lyon Biennale.

"Bedtime Stories" (2017) by Lee Mingwei. Image by Blandine Soulage-Rocca.

Lee Mingwei

Lee Mingwei is internationally recognised as one of the leading creators of participatory art engaging with local people, places and institutions in exchange of private experiences.

Specially conceived for Lyon Biennale by Taiwanese American artist Lee Mingwei (b. 1964), Bedtime Stories is an installation inviting us to return to our childhood in an itinerant van which travels around the neighborhoods of Lyon.

“One of my fondest childhood memories is the bedtime stories my mother read to me before I went to sleep. Even though some of the stories were quite scary, what I remember most are that intimate time with mom and the magical realm created by the stories which led into my sleep and dreams. The aim of this project is to enable visitors to re-experience that powerful yet delicate moment that most of us remember from childhood, although in this case the children's book will be read to us not by our mother, but by a stranger. The van library will be furnished with a platform bed large enough for two on one side, and shelves containing children's books on the other.”


"Moré Moré [Leaky] The Falling Water Given #4-6"(2017) by Yuko Mohri. Image courtesy of the artist, Lyon Biennale, and White Rainbow ©Blaise Adilon

Yuko Mohri

Yuko Mohri (b. 1980) installations give physicality to intangible energies such as magnetism, gravity, and light by creating assemblages of reconfigured everyday items and machine parts collected from around the world.

Stemming from her fieldwork research of the accidental but creative impromptu repairs by station workers of water leaks in Tokyo underground metro stations since 2009, her dynamic installations feature artificial ecosystems fixed into wooden frames built to the exact dimensions of Marcel Duchamp’s, The Large Glass, a work she has long admired. Water flows through meandering circuits of rainboots, plastic bags, umbrellas, mechanical metal wheels and buckets before being pumped around for a new cycle. Ultimately, Mohri hopes by revealing invisible natural forces interacting with man-made situations, people will see how they are connected to ordinary life.


 L’été à venir est déjà fini (Next Summer is Already Over) (2016) by Jingfang Hao & Lingjie Wang.  Image courtesy of the artists © Lingjie Wang, ADAGP

Jingfang Hao & Lingjie Wang

Working as a duo, Shanghai artists Jingfang Hao and Lingjie Wang create hybrid objects and environments using natural elements such as light, gravity and time as primary artistic materials. Their work, Next Summer is Already Over features a ground completely covered with lotus pollen, with found objects of the installation place emerging through the pollen. Visitors walk over the pollen landscape on a footbridge of pallets, invited to participate in a timeless space.  Lotus pollen evokes a contrasting cyclical sense of time, as the ‘male’ component of the plant’s reproductive system, is the essence of its future, but also serves as a fossil, the only remaining part of the plant who has already rotted away.


"When Sky was Sea" (2002) by Shimabuku. Performance and video installation. Image courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris, Paris.


Acclaimed Japanese artist, Shimabuku’s (b.1969) video When Sky Was Sea, 2002, documents the performance where dozens of volunteers flew fish or octopus shaped kites, metaphorically turning the world upside down.  A magical new perspective is created in the transformation of the clear blue sky into a sea of swimming sea creatures. Shimabuku’s work often inverts the way the everyday is seen, asking the viewer to shed preconceived notions and skepticism to see and experience the world anew with poetic wonder. 


"Relatum-Stage" (2017) by Lee Ufan.  Image by Jean-Philippe Simard.

"Relatum-Home" (2017) by Lee Ufan.  Image by Jean-Philippe Simard.

Lee Ufan at Le Corbusier’s La Tourette

An associated exhibition to the Lyon Biennale, Lee Ufan (b. 1936) one of the most influential Korean contemporary artists on the international scene has been invited to dialogue with Le Corbusier’s La Tourette, the UNESCO world heritage designated Dominican monastery 30 km outside of Lyon. Lee Ufan is the most well known of the Mono-ha group of artists, who focus on the interplay between natural and industrial materials, privileging perceptions and contemplation over representation and expression.

At La Tourette, Lee Ufan works with the dialectal relationships that characterize his work, juxtaposing manmade against natural, material against immaterial, the work against its environment to explore notions of emptiness, space and energy. His works animate the unknown and unseen which lies between, demanding the spectator to engage in a silent dialogue with his works inhabiting the spaces of Le Corbusier.

Confronting the minimalist, almost brutal architecture of the monastery, Lee Ufan creates six installations, four of them “rooms of meditation.” One of slate, one of glass and river polished stones, and two of paper, which incidentally is the first time Lee Ufan has used paper in an installation since 1969.


Floating Worlds, 14th Lyon Biennale from September 20, 2017 to January 7, 2018. 

Lee Ufan at La Tourette from September 20, 2017 to December 20, 2017.


Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.


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