press release

September 21, 2024–January 5, 2025

Biennale de Lyon 2024/25 17th edition

Artistic director: Isabelle Bertolotti
Guest curator: Alexia Fabre

Human relations will be at the heart of the 17th Lyon Biennale—the contemporary issues that underlie them, their many facets, their scope and their rituals—in order to explore and extend hospitality practices.

This edition, devoted to welcoming the other, is rooted in the natural and human geography of its vast home region, as defined by the rivers that wash against Lyon’s embankments, making it possible to ship and trade goods, to transport people and generate human connections, before they finally merge and become stronger. Rivers convey tales of journeys and discoveries, of influence and confluence—each a current that carries us towards the question of hospitality.

In 2024, Les Grandes Locos will become one of the main Biennale venues. From the mid-19th century until 2019, this huge site was devoted to maintaining and repairing the fleets of freight trains engines that ran all over France. It is now being redesigned and refurbished as an events venue and a hub for arts, cultural, citizen-led and collective activities. By moving in here, and through the artists’ projects, the Lyon Biennale wishes to perpetuate the history of this place—its stories and the care and repair practices that make up its identity.

Artists from multiple backgrounds, and at different points in their career, are being invited to offer their interpretation and vision of relations—ways of being choral, singular and plural all at once. In a present where respect for difference, contradictory ideas and debate are at stake, dialogue has become a relational and existential issue. It now seems vital, by combining artistic practices, to consider the different ways of revisiting the authority and silences of history with a view to polyphonic expression, attentiveness to and respect for others, and private or collective repair.

Welcoming and hospitality are relations with the world that are carried out through choices, actions, gestures, words, desire, and ways of being with others and self. They are personal decisions but also collective ones—for building alliances and the polyphonic strength of a collective that makes it possible to co-exist, come together, and rise up.

In a desire to collaborate and to expand the creative process, the artists are inviting audiences to take part in their works: they are creating for, but also with, everyone. In featuring existing works as well as inviting artists to make new ones, the Lyon Biennale wishes to open up a spacetime for thinking that can yield shared, vibrant experiences. The event, which has long championed creators, also sees itself as a moment in time for reflecting together on the role artists play, and the power they have, to reveal the world and intervene in it.

At stake today is the trust we place in others but also in the creative act, our hope being that society shares this trust and desire, and expects and welcomes the role artists play.