Lyon Biennale, France

Manifesto of Fragility

16th Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art
September 14–December 31, 2022

 

Curatorial framework

Curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, the 16th Lyon Biennale manifesto of fragility is structured along two distinct axes that function as complimentary conduits for the Biennale’s consideration of fragility: A horizontal, geographical line carries the contributions of 87 contemporary artists from 39 countries engaging with the topic of fragility in a wide range of artistic practices. A vertical, temporal line will deliver more than 100 historical artworks and objects spanning two millennia on loan from several diverse collections in Lyon and abroad. The Biennale posits a point of intersection between the two axes to initiate a focused exploration of fragility within the context of the dazzling yet tumultuous 1960s era of Beirut’s so-called Golden Age, featuring 230 artworks by 34 artists and more than 300 archival documents from nearly 40 collections worldwide. This section of the biennale acquires added poignance in Lyon, given the city’s historical entanglements with Beirut centred around the 19th century silk trade, and the establishment of the French Mandate in 1920.

 

 

Artists | Mohammed Kazem

Two gestures of resistance inform Kazem's works in the Biennale. While both gestures leverage precarity and tenuousness, each heralds a kind of silent determination, an invisible endurance, in entirely different ways. 

 

On one hand, there is his artistic resolve to reveal the hidden, to confront a complacent collective consciousness with an impossible inequity. The dark, affective paintings Even the Shade Does Not Belong to Them (2018) confounds visibility, insisting on the act of scrutinising, of actively seeing what usually recedes into oblivion.   

 

On the other, the artist capture the silent resistance of the labour itself, repeated and renewed, channelling force from its own potential depletion. The 108 colourless graphite drawings in the series Windows spring from photographs he took between 2003 and 2005 of construction sites, busy highways, and exhausted roadside workers. The series frames not only depletion, but contextualises it within the broader paradox of a society numbed by the overpromise of artifice. The works blend a colourless anonymity with unnatural precision, echoing the very plight of the labourer whose individual skill is overshadowed by his social indistinctness. The artist's works engulf viewers in a communal fragility, insisting on the act of seeing as a means of keeping the hidden visible.

12 September 2022
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