April 7, 2014 - Biennale de Lyon - 2015: modern / Ralph Rugoff
April 7, 2014

2015: modern / Ralph Rugoff

© Jasper Clarke.

13th Biennale de Lyon
10 September 2015–3 January 2016

Professional preview: 8–9 September 2015


Thierry Raspail, Artistic Director of the Biennale de Lyon, kicks off a new trilogy from 2015 to 2019 around the word “modern.”

Since co-curating the first three Biennales from 1991 to 1995, I have invited each guest curator to reflect on a word which sums up what is happening in art today. This word spans three editions, and provides the framework for a trilogy covering six years. The journey therefore covers quite a time—indeed, it is almost a history in itself.

For 2015, and until 2019, I have chosen to explore modern, both a substantive and a qualifier. Modern is not modernism, nor is it modernity; but it can contain them, grab them, express them. What’s more, we know perfectly well, and have done for a long time—at least since Rimbaud—that ‘one must be absolutely modern.’

Today, everything is modern: the neo-modernism sweeping through the visual arts, the vintage charm at work in design, and the ‘re-enactment’ that turns history into a subjective present. An anthropological survey of the Moderns—in the plural—has been written (Bruno Latour), which leaves us its singularity.

Today, the pre-, the post-, the hyper-, the ‘alter-’ and the anti- are unfailingly modern. And yet the modern, in the avant-garde era, made a distinction between the artist’s ‘domain of choice’ and the wasteland around it. Since then, the late modern—with the postmodern—has discovered flux, bricolage and the hybrid at the same time as subordinate cultures, the vernacular and the Other. The modern has sought in vain to ‘shake off’ the dominant Western zeitgeist that actually gave rise to it, whereas Africa, China and India have accepted and expanded it. With interconnectivity having erased the ‘discordance of time’ dear to traditional historiographers, there remains a single, global modern age. We will endeavour to clarify its diffractions, measure its impedance, and pinpoint the rifts and bumps that it encounters.

I have entrusted the first part of this modern trilogy to Ralph Rugoff, who will curate the 2015 edition. Needless to say, our intention is not to define the modern, but to report novel experiences of it which artists are turning into history.”
–Thierry Raspail, artistic director of the Biennale de Lyon

Ralph Rugoff, curator of the Biennale de Lyon 2015
Ralph Rugoff is Director of the Hayward Gallery in London. Since his appointment in 2006, he has curated numerous exhibitions including Psycho Buildings, The Painting of Modern Life, Invisible: Art About the Unseen, 1957–2012, and The Alternative Guide to the Universe, as well as monographic exhibitions on Ed Ruscha, George Condo, Jeremy Deller and Tracey Emin.

From 2000 to 2006, he was Director of the Wattis Institute in San Francisco, where he organized approximately one dozen exhibitions, including Baja to Vancouver, the first survey of artists living along North America’s West Coast, and solo projects by artists such as Mike Kelley, Roni Horn, Thomas Hirschhorn, and Mike Nelson.

Prior to that, he worked as an independent curator and critic, organizing shows at venues such as the Serpentine Gallery in London (The Greenhouse Effect, 2000) and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (Scene of the Crime, 1996). His first exhibition, Just Pathetic (1990–91) was cited by Artforum magazine as being one of the most influential exhibitions of the decade.

As a writer, Rugoff has contributed essays to catalogs and books on artists such as David Hammons, Paul McCarthy, Luc Tuymans, Michel Blazy, and Jean-Luc Mylayne. In addition, he is the author of Circus Americanus, a collection of essays on popular visual culture and architecture. He has served as a judge for the 2013 Turner Prize and the 2010 British Council selection committee for the Venice Biennale.

The international exhibition designed by Ralph Rugoff will be joined by two platforms: Veduta, for amateurs; and Résonance, for creative work across the Rhône-Alpes region.

Biennale de Lyon
Share - 2015: modern / Ralph Rugoff
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York