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Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale: An Exciting Social Experience Supporting the Region

The Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale has been a highlight of the international art calendar since it was launched in 1991, attracting over 300,000 visitors in 2017. The 15th edition will be held between September 18, 2019 and January 5, 2020, taking on a whole new dimension. For the first time, TotalEnergies Foundation is the main partner of the event, which echoes its commitment to supporting young artists, intercultural dialogue, regional vitality in our host communities and youth inclusion.

This year’s Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale, entitled Where Water Comes Together to Meet Other Water, will be held throughout the entire macLYON museum, as well as 29,000 square meters of the disused Fagor factory in the center of the Gerland district. Works will also be displayed as part of events such as Veduta, Résonnance and Associated Exhibitions throughout the surrounding Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. The exhibitions will bring together the 12 departments in the region and foster contact between artists, residents and the galleries, schools, nonprofits and institutions involved in the local art scene.

The Palais de Tokyo and its team of seven artistic directors have been invited to curate the exhibition. Addressing the theme of landscapes, the 50 selected artists of all ages and from diverse backgrounds will each produce a piece of site-specific art that encompasses the history, architecture and socio-economic fabric of the location. 

The works will be created on site, thanks to partnerships between artists and regional businesses that specialize in a diverse range of industries, such as metalwork, chemicals, textiles and construction. “TotalEnergies has been present in the Rhône-Alpes region for over 50 years. Through our partnership with the Biennale, we hope to encourage the unifying nature of this event, which brings different stakeholders and communities together from across the region as part of a collaborative experience,” said Anne-Claire Lienhardt, head of Cultural Dialogue and Heritage in TotalEnergies’s Civil Society Engagement Department.

On top of offering financial support, TotalEnergies Foundation is committed to engaging young people, in particular the students from the Bassin Lyonnais Écoles de Production. This network of TotalEnergies Foundation-sponsored institutions prepares young people for vocational qualifications using an innovative educational model based on real-life situations and genuine orders. As part of the project, some of the students are helping to create pieces of art, such as the works by Felipe Arturo and the duo formed by Daniel Dewar and Grégory Gicquel. “This collaboration is a great opportunity for these young people to expand their horizons, showcase their skills and develop self-confidence and pride in their work,” Anne-Claire Lienhardt explains. 

The Biennale is a stepping-stone into the world of art, offering valuable encounters between artists and students, art and industry, local residents and international guests. For this reason, it will truly be an exciting social experience.

Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale

Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale

Corentin Rémond :
Total Foundation supports les Écoles de Production in their major development plan. The goal is to create by 2028 seventy-five schools, and to bring the network to one hundred schools in order to be closer to young people who need a "learning by doing" approach. We offer different trainings in machining, industry, construction, as carpentry or timber, and about a dozen of other skill areas. In this context, the Biennale of contemporary art offered to support les Écoles de Production by involving the students in making of art works designed by artists. The idea of this year’s Biennale is to promote the regional industrial know-how, and les Écoles de Production’s know-how is part of it. Today is defining moment since the artist came to meet the students.

Felipe Arturo :
For me it’s very important to show you some of my research, my process with this project. It’s interesting to see how, as an exercise for the students, they will be exposed to other kinds of furniture. I think that this is a very interesting experience for them. I really want to see their faces when they’ll see these objects which they are working on at the installation. They could see how people interact with these objects. When they’ll see where these objects are going to be exhibited and which way they are going to be used or looked at by people, I think they will understand the sense of what we are doing. And also, it’s interesting for me to see how a carpentry school works here in France, which might be very different from the way it would work in Colombia or other places. For me it’s important to see how this process of production can homogenise different traditional furniture.

Eric Fillon :
This allows students to discover new work environments to have a global vision, and above all, to have a better understanding of the artist’s work, based on his or her explanations. I’m working here on a chair that will go to the Biennale. So here I am squaring off to get the back to fit in. I find very interesting all this metaphor around coffee, like a bridge that brings together the different continents. As a part of the partnership with the Biennale, we have developed a different approach, as we meet the artists. Students get to be in contact with the artist here at the workshop, and to work on the pieces. Then we are going to organize, as a part of the Biennale guided tours for young people to discover the exhibition at Fagor and the works. They will be very interested to see the pieces they have worked on.