Your Guide to the Lyon Biennale 2022

Biennials offer the tourist experience on steroids. Venues are dotted around the city, art integrated into the everyday. With La Biennale de Lyon situated in the gastronomic capital of France, I flew in as hungry for good food as I was for great art. 202 artists from 39 countries make up the largest Biennale yet. This year’s title is manifesto of fragility, commenting on the division and vulnerability felt in the world today. 48 hours in the city gave me just enough time to see it all. This list features my favorites and the venues that I would prioritize. You might think you can tackle more in a short period, but don’t forget about taking advantage of the gastronomy around town!

The 16th La Biennale de Lyon is open from September 14 – December 31, 2022. Visit their website here for more information. Tickets are €20 and get you access to the six exhibition venues (all other venues are free!).

–Gary Yeh

Taryn Simon at the Usines Fagor atLyon Biennale 2022 | ArtDrunk

Usines Fagor (Fagor Factories) Main Exhibition Venue

The largest venue for the Biennale, the Usines Fagor is the previous site where the Fagor household appliances were manufactured. If you’ve been to the Venice Biennale, think of this as Venice’s Arsenale – most of the artists exhibiting in Lyon can be found here. The factories themselves provide a maze of an experience as you weave in and out of buildings on the property. One such building houses one of my favorite works by Hans Op De Beeck – the interior is filled with an apocalyptic scene painted entirely in gray. Pictured here is a full wall of photographs by Taryn Simon. And throughout the site, you’ll find plenty of video works, such as by Julian Charrière of cinematically filmed icebergs. Don’t be alarmed if you start hearing human screeches and cries, though. That’s just a performance piece by Eszter Salamon.

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Egg shaped forms and vitrines hang from the ceiling

Musée Guimet Museum of Natural History

While Usines Fagor is a must visit as the main venue of the Biennale, the Guimet venue is actually my favorite. Artwork takes over the natural history museum in the most curious ways. Plants and video work flow out of antique wood and glass vitrines by Ugo Schiavi. Massive egg-shaped objects poke down from the ceiling by Tarik Kiswanson. A “drawing” of the Guimet is carved out of its own walls by Leyla Cárdenas. The installations here are the most immersive of the Biennale, where practically every room transports you into a new artistic universe without contrasting harshly with the historic architecture. 

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LUGDUNUM at the Lyon Biennale 2022 | ArtDrunk

LUGDUNUM Museum and Roman Theater

Situated on the ancient Roman city of Lugdunum – we’re talking 2,000 years ago – Lyon’s Gallo-Roman Museum houses a unique pairing of contemporary and ancient works. Big names like Toyin Ojih Odutola and Jesse Mockrin share the space with more site-specific installations by Filwa Nazer and Amina Agueznay. Occasionally, you’ll come across alcoves (like the one pictured) that let you peek out into the ancient theater remains. With those ruins in the background, the work by Klára Hosnedlová sets an eerie tone of the world’s future ruin. 

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Kim Simonsson at URDLA | ArtDrunk

URDLA Historical Printmaking Atelier

If you’ve been following ArtDrunk on Instagram, you’ll know we love diving into artists’ processes (head to our Reels if you aren’t already familiar!). So despite being one of the smallest venues, URDLA was one of the spots we spent the longest period of time. Artworks are placed among centuries-old printmaking machines – all of which are still in good working order. And several of my favorite artists of the entire Biennale happen to have work here: Salman Toor, Özgür Kar, and Julian Charrière. The more approachable scale of the venue, the wide skylights, and the humble character of the workshop make it one of the more refreshing spots. 

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Jesse Mockrin at the Lyon Biennale 2022 | ArtDrunk

Musée Gadagne Museum of History

On view in the courtyard of the Gadagne, one artwork that will pull you in from a distance is the sound piece by Hannah Weinberger. Four speakers are tucked around the building’s inner courtyard, playing audio from radio stations either currently or previously colonized by France. Jesse Mockrin, a recent “hot” artist, also has work on view here. It’s the first time we’ve seen her in a context more contemporary to the subjects in her work – which is characterized by unique cropping of classical imagery (pictured here). Kim Simonsson has his Moss People at each of the Biennale venues (you’ll recognize them as those velvety green, childlike figures). Here, one is hidden away. While not necessarily my art taste, it makes for a fun experience from venue to venue, running into the figures. 

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macLyon Museum of Contemporary Art of Lyon

At macLyon, you’ll find several group exhibitions around the Biennale. One builds a narrative around the fictional figure Louise Brunet. Hundreds of artworks come together, telling the story of an imprisoned woman and her journey from Lyon to Lebanon. While another show looks more broadly at the politics of 1958-1975 Beirut through art. One of my favorite reasons ot make it to macLyon in the first place, though, is taking a walk through Parc de la Tête d’Or – a breath of nature in the city before you dive into multiple more floors of art. 

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