lyon

Mike Nelson, A7 (Route du soleil), 2015, tires, iron, concrete. Installation view, La Sucrière. Photo: Blaise Adilon.

the 13th Biennale de Lyon

Biennale de Lyon

Mike Nelson, A7 (Route du soleil), 2015, tires, iron, concrete. Installation view, La Sucrière. Photo: Blaise Adilon.

IN HIS CATALOGUE ESSAY for “La vie moderne,” the thirteenth edition of the Biennale de Lyon, curator Ralph Rugoff points out one of modernism’s most enduring paradoxes: If the desire for rupture is, as he puts it, “the modernist gesture par excellence,” then the urge to break free from the modern era is “merely a symptom of the modernity it aspires to bury.” Modernism, in other words, is very much with us still—whether we admit it or not. Indeed, as Rugoff argues, its myriad impulses and effects continue to thread their way through contemporary culture in complex and contradictory ways. To take the modern as a biennial theme is certainly a tall order. An impossibly loaded term, it describes the present, conjures multiple pasts (as far back as the Stone Age, as biennial director Thierry Raspail notes in the catalogue), and launches toward the future. Embracing these ambiguities

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