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Mai Abu ElDahab

View of 11th Biennale de Lyon, “Une Terrible Beauté est née” (A Terrible Beauty Is Born), 2011, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon. Foreground: Cildo Meireles, La Bruja 1 (The Witch 1), 1979–81. Background: Twenty untitled drawings by Marlene Dumas, 1979–2004. Photo: Blaise Adilon.

1 11th Biennale de Lyon (multiple venues; curated by Victoria Noorthoorn) This year’s edition of the biennial was a much-needed expression of passion for art. Absent were the generic codes of large-scale contemporary art exhibitions (demonstrative diversity of media, rote “internationalism, ” trends . . . ). The exceptional visual poetry of Augusto de Campos, emblazoned on the walls throughout the show’s main venue, underscored the poetic quality of Noorthoorn’s daringly unprogrammatic approach. From Gabriel Sierra’s in situ excavation of the Musée d’Art Contemporain’s physical layers to perhaps the largest presentation of Stano Filko’s color protocols to the idiosyncratic worlds of Robert Filliou and Zbyněk Baladrán, the biennial unabashedly proposed aesthetics as an unwaveringly powerful tool in its own right.

Iman Issa, Thirty-Three Stories About Reasonable Characters in Familiar Places, 2011, mixed media. Installation view, SculptureCenter, New York. Photo: Jason Mandella.

2 Iman Issa, Thirty-Three Stories About Reasonable Characters

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